The repressive central Asian nation of Turkmenistan, where the likes of Facebook and Whatsapp are banned, on Monday launched its first messaging app.
The privately developed BizBarde app will “allow the exchange of messages, files, photos and videos,” the state Yaslyk television station said.
“The dream to create the first Turkmen messenger came to me a long time ago,” CEO Eziz Beknazarov said.
“Many people did not believe in this idea but I brought together a group of specialists and programmers for this project and, after a year and a half of hard work, the first Turkmen messenger has become reality.”
The service was tested for several months before its Monday launch and some 5,000 people have already downloaded the app, Beknazarov added.
The application is available via the Google Android platform as well as Apple’s iOS and Microsoft Windows.
One of the world’s most isolated regimes, the ex-Soviet republic has blocked Western services including Twitter and Viber, along with popular Russian networks Odnoklassniki and VKontakte.
The country sits on the world’s fourth largest reserves of natural gas and regularly finds itself at the bottom of global rights and press freedom rankings.
Only officially sanctioned media are allowed to operate and internet access is provided solely by the state-owned TurkmenTelecom.