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The Kremlin is threatening to ban Wikipedia in Russia over the site’s information pertaining to the war in Ukraine.
The Russian government’s censorship bureau, Roskomnadzor, warned editors of Wikipedia’s Russian language that the article in question violates state law. Here’s the memo:
Roskomnadzor (Russian censorship agency) has threatened to block all of Wikipedia from Russia due to its "Russian Invasion into Ukraine" article. Their main gripes: it lists Russian soldier casualty figures and describes how Ukrainian civilians/children are being killed. https://t.co/BvjttdEHrP
— Aric Toler (@AricToler) March 1, 2022
Wikipedia’s entry includes data on the number of Russian military and Ukrainian civilian casualties — both of which the Kremlin disputes.
Ukrainian officials report a death total of 352 civilians and 110 Ukrainian soldiers.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that nearly 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since the start of the invasion. Meanwhile, the Russian government reports 200 dead Ukrainian soldiers compared to just two dead Russian soldiers. So the difference in reporting is significant.
According to the New York Post, Roskomnadzor has sent Russian language Wikipedia editors dozens of similar memos over the years, each of which have demanded censorship.
Wikipedia does not plan to respond to Roskomnadzor but says it will add more sources to the page regarding the war in Ukraine.
Tuesday, the Wikimedia Foundation was “actively working with affected communities to identify potential threats to information on Wikimedia projects, and supporting volunteer editors and administrators who serve as a first line of defense against manipulation of facts and knowledge.”
So it’s hard to envision any scenario in which the Kremlin does not ban Wikipedia in Russia, as it continues to crack down on outside information that contradicts state-run media.