Recent drop in Tor users from Turkmenistan; testers wanted

The number of measured Tor users in Turkmenistan decreased by about 75% between 2021-07-22 and 2021-07-31. This is only users connecting using the non-obfuscated Tor TLS protocol. Users of bridges or pluggable transports do not show a change at the same time.

We discussed the situation in Turkmenistan at the 2021-08-12 Tor anti-censorship team meeting. @gus, the lead of the Tor community team, found a volunteer tester in Turkmenistan, and together they made some observations:

  • Using Tor Browser for Android, the tester could not connect using the default bridges of obfs4, meek-azure, or snowflake.
  • However, a private obfs4 bridge with a non-public address worked.
  •, a web-based tool for evaluating Tor blocking, could not be accessed by the tester, for some reason. @gus set up another instance at
  • The country-wide number of users of default bridges (the hardcoded bridge addresses you get if you simply select “obfs4” in Tor Browser) is close to zero; this means that users who use bridges are mainly using non-default bridges.

@gus is looking for additional testers who can help uncover what is happening in Turkmenistan. You can post here, or on the Tor ticket, or send email to (PGP). A good first test to run is:




If you zoom out on the graph, you can see that the decrease in the number of relay users follows a period of elevated usage that started around the beginning of 2021.


Right now the overwhelming majority of Tor relays is directly accessible using Turkmentelecom connection. Tor browser (already bootstrapped one) successfully connects to the network without bridges.

This ISP implements the least amount of filtering compared to GTS or TMCELL. Will try to test on other ISP later.

The Internet in Turkmenistan is one of the most restricted in the world. To begin with, Turkmentelecom AS20661 only has about 20,000 IP addresses to support the entire country. If are one of the lucky few who gets an account, your connection will be incredibly slow and incredibly expensive. Censorship and surveillance are widespread. And in August 2021 it was reported that Internet subscribers also had to swear on the Koran not to use VPNs. So, while Tor may technically be unblocked, there are major incentives not to use it.

Pre-bootstrapped Tor also successfully connects on AGTS ISP.
Note that IP address of AGTS is from range for some reason — that’s Delta Telecom IP Range, Azerbaijan.

It could be I’m testing the reachability in some special date/time because it feels like the filtering is lifted compared to a regular blocks.
I’ll try to test on TMCELL.

@ValdikSS The Russians took Tor-blocking equipment from the Turkmen and Kazakhs, I think. They said we needed it more. Some political event is planned. Navalny’s site is no longer working, by the way.

(users from Kazakhstan said that Tor blocking had also stopped)