The report of the Access Global Movement for Digital Freedom stating that Kazakhstan security forces are capable of intercepting telephone conversations, controlling Internet traffic and accessing SMS and MMS messages of Kazakhstan citizens with the help of Russian-made technologies is a provocation staged by foes of Russia and CIS, chairman of the National Security Commission Veterans public foundation retired general major Tursyn Aizhulov told Tengrinews.kz.
Aizhulov believes that the author of the report Peter Bourgelais is not reliable: “The author himself raises doubts, he is not reliable”. And views this information as a provocation that seems to be written by those trying to undermine Russia and CIS. “Judging from the report's content, the research is biased and of the anti-Russian nature,” Aizhulov says.
The author of the research says nothing new when writing that special services of Central Asian countries possess equipment for interception of telephone conversations, Aizhulov says. “Queen Anne is dead! Yes, they have the equipment. Why would we lag behind other countries (that have the equipment)? Or does he want us to live in the Middle Age and ride camels? We live in the 21st century and, of course, every self-respecting country and its special forces use new technologies,” the speaker says.
He also wonders why the origins of the surveillance equipment makes so much difference to the author of the report. The information is classified and special forces have a right to keep it this way, the General Major said. According to him, Bourgelais is using his so-called research to try to put through his idea that Russia helps strengthen “despotic regimes” in Central Asia.
Speaking about the surveillance itself Tursyn Aizhulov says that the issue is not about CIS countries having the special equipment or the country it originates from. The main issue is how this equipment is used and whether the countries violate its citizens' rights. The law On operational-investigative activities and the Criminal Procedure Code regulate use of the equipment by Kazakhstan's national security authorities, he says.
He continues that special operational-investigative activities that include interception of telephone conversations are held lawfully and only with a prosecutor’s warrant. Only in cases of emergency, such as a threat of a terrorist attack, phone conversation surveillance or recording can be allowed based on a decree of a chief investigator or head of the authority that performs the operative-investigative activities, but the prosecutor still has to be notified and his warrant has to be obtained within 24 hours.
Answering the question on whether the special forces are capable of tapping phones of absolutely all Kazakhstan citizen, the expert said no. “Imagine the equipment required to make tapping of all the phones technically possible. No, it is not possible. That would require half the country's population to be involved in phone tapping and control operations. The capacities, both technical and human, are limited,” he said.