Residents of Turkmenistan will have to swear on the holy Quran in order to get home internet connection and that they will not access websites that are banned, according to several media reports.
Internet users from Turkmenistan told US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that they were informed by authorities to swear on the Quran that they will never use VPNs after applying for a home internet connection.
"I waited for a year and a half after I filled all necessary documents and signed application forms asking to install WiFi in my home. Now they say I must swear on the Koran that I will not use a VPN, but nothing is accessible without VPNs. I do not know what to do," one resident told RFE/RL.
Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, 63, has run the former Soviet republic of 6 million for almost 20 years as an absolute ruler tolerating no dissent, and has overseen the redirection of natural gas exports from Russia to China. His presidential term ends in 2024.
According to The Times newspaper, a quarter of homes in Turkmenistan have access to the Internet. Berdymukhamedov’s government, however, has banned many websites including social media sites and platforms like Facebook and Twitter. To get around the ban, many residents in Turkmenistan said they have used VPNs to circumnavigate those bans.