Sandwiched between China and Kazakhstan, the landlocked Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan isn’t particularly well known for its BitTorrent heritage. However, its population of 5.5 million does include a thriving torrent community, mostly centered around smaller sites, but many of which use the country’s largest tracker, Torrent.kg.
Unfortunately, users of Torrent.kg found their favorite site inaccessible at the end of last week when a message in Russian appeared on its homepage. “For reasons beyond our control the site is temporarily suspended. The administration hopes for a speedy solution to all problems. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.”
Of course, P2P users in the west would probably be suspicious that an unexplained torrent site shutdown could be linked to copyright issues, but for those from Kyrgyzstan this would be a fairly unusual event. However, those suspicions would prove correct – Torrent.kg had been shut down by the police.
A staff member at the site confirmed that the police had indeed closed down the site by confiscating the servers. The police said that on Monday they were due to conduct an examination of the seized hardware but as of yet the site remains down, even though a temporary forum is now available for concerned users.
The site’s owner seems confident that the site will return fairly soon and is asking the userbase not to remove any torrents they have in their clients so as not to damage the health of the tracker.
TorrentFreak caught up with Tolkun Umaraliev, a blogger from Kyrgyzstan who expressed doubt that the closure of Torrent.kg would make any meaningful impact on availability of pirate material in the country.
“Piracy cannot be stopped in Kyrgyzstan, because people – consumers – do not really know what piracy is, and that it is illegal. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, our market has been filled with underground VHS cassettes of Hollywood movies poorly translated into Russian and underground audio cassettes of western singers. And their prices were reasonable – consumers could afford them,” he told us.
Interestingly, Tolkun explained that Kyrgyzstan was introduced to pirated products long before legal options were available.
“It was several years after the fall of the Iron Curtain that licensed products came to our markets. But they were so expensive that people continued buying illegal copies. And until recently the state has not been taking any firm steps in fighting piracy in Kyrgyzstan.”
But just as in the west, the authorities shut one site down and other, more resilient ones appear. Kyrgyzstan now has its own version of OpenBitTorrent.