Wikimedia said it would “not back down” after Russia threatened to block Wikipedia
The Wikimedia Foundation issued a statement in support of Russian volunteers, following a request for censorship by Internet regulators. On Tuesday, Roskomnadzor threatened to block Wikipedia over a Russian-language page covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, claiming it contained “false reports” about war victims and the effects of economic sanctions, among other things.
“On March 1, 2022, the Wikimedia Foundation received a request from the Russian government to remove content related to the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine published by volunteers participating in the Russian Wikipedia,” a statement sent to The Verge by e-mail said. “As always, Wikipedia is an important source of reliable, factual information in this crisis. Recognizing this important role, we will not give in to efforts to censor and intimidate members of our movement. We are committed to providing free knowledge to the world. . “
The request of Roskomnadzor, which was published in the channel of the Russian Wikipedia in Telegram, requires Wikimedia to review the edits of users from the version of the article from February 27. The Russian version of the site disputes “information about numerous casualties among Russian servicemen, as well as among the civilian population of Ukraine, including the number of children”, as well as “the need to withdraw funds from bank accounts of the Russian Federation in connection with sanctions imposed by foreign countries “.
Although victims of the war remain difficult to assess, the United Nations has confirmed hundreds of deaths of civilians in Ukraine since the conflict began last week, including at least 13 children, and acknowledged that its figures may underestimate the actual number of victims.
In the past, Russian authorities have sent a number of complaints about Wikipedia pages. In 2015, the government even blocked the site over an article about cannabis, but its download was short-lived. However, the current threat is part of a larger-scale online crackdown on the invasion – one in which Russia blocked Twitter and Facebook in an attempt to control information about the war. “Tuesday’s removal request threatened censorship. Depriving people of access to reliable information during a crisis could have life-changing consequences,” the Wikimedia statement warned.
Photo: Excerpt from the fresco of Michelangelo’s Doomsday