Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Russia Demands Wikipedia Take Down Information About Ukraine War

Topline

The Russian media regulator threatened Wikipedia with fines Thursday of up to 4 million rubles (about $49,000) if it doesn’t delete information about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that diverges from the Kremlin’s version of events, in the latest attempt by the Russian government to clamp down on the media and restrict what the Russian public knows about the war.

Key Facts

The Russian media censorship agency Roskomnadzor demanded the volunteer-run online encyclopedia take down any information on the invasion that is “misinforming” Russians, according to a statement.

Roskomnadzor didn’t detail in the notice what information it was referring to, but Russian Wikipedia editors told Vice earlier this month that Roskomnadzor threatened to block Wikipedia for including information from the Ukrainian government on Ukrainian civilian and Russian troop casualties in its “Russian Invasion of Ukraine” Russian language entry.

The Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia’s San Francisco-based parent organization, did not immediately respond to Forbes‘ request for comment, but said in a March 3 statement it “will not back down in the face of efforts to censor and intimidate members of our movement.”

Key Background

On Tuesday, Roskomnadzor threatened Google with fines of up to 8 million rubles (about $98,000) or 20% of its annual revenue in Russia for not deleting YouTube videos the agency requested. YouTube is the last major American social media platform that is maintaining service in Russia, after the Russian government blocked access to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter following the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. It is a crime in Russia to refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “war” or “invasion” or to provide any information deemed to “discredit” the Russian military, according to censorship laws passed this month.

Tangent

Russian newspaper Novaya Gazetaone of the few independent publications remaining in the country and whose editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, said Monday it will shut down until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine concludes due to multiple warnings from Roskomnadzor.

Further Reading

Russians Are Racing to Download Wikipedia Before It Gets Banned (Slate,

Russia Threatens to Block Wikipedia for Statement Facts About Its War Casualties, Editors Say (Vice)

Explainer: Russia’s internet crackdown (Reuters)

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