Russia Threatens To Block Wikipedia

Editors at the Russian version of Wikipedia say the country's media &communications regulator Roskomnadzor has threatened to block the site. Wikipedia has been reporting since Russia commenced a major military build-up near the Russo-Ukrainian border, followed by a second build-up between October 2021 to February 2022 and then invasion. 

Wikipedia have published a Twitter blog from Roskomnadzor which claimed a page about the Ukraine invasion includes "illegally distributed information," such as the number of Russian military casualties and those of Ukrainian civilians and children.

Despite its military build-up, the Russian government repeatedly denied plans to invade Ukraine. As late as 20 February, Russian officials called warnings of an invasion "hysteria", however, President Vladimir Putin ultimately issued the order for Russian forces to invade Ukraine. Since then, Russians have killed hundreds of  Ukrainian civilians, including  children. 

  • On 12 November 2021, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that "Russia doesn't threaten anyone".
  • On 12 December, Peskov said that attempts were being made to "demonise Russia and cast it as a potential aggressor". 
  • On 31 January 2022, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, as chairman of the Russian Officers' Assembly, accused Putin and the leadership of Russia of preparing for war and called on them to resign. 

All these events are contained in  the English Wikipedia page for the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine,  collaboratively written by nearly 740 distinct authors. The page was activated just minutes following Putin’s televised address announcing the invasion. Currently, new and unregistered users aren't able to edit the article in order to protect it from vandalism.

It might seem strange for a digital encyclopedia to offer a day by day account of the developing war, however, the number of people reading about Ukraine on Wikipedia is at an unprecedented high, spiking to more than 22 million page views in February 2022 compare to 290,000 in February 2021. 

Russia is coupling its lethal military campaign with a propaganda campaign that Wikipedia is attempting to counter. This is important, not least because Wikipedia is a widely used tool to inform the work of journalists and publishers and is used as a source to power Google’s search results around the world. 

English Version Wikipedia Differs From The Ukrainian Version

The role of Wikipedia has included issues such as whether the online encyclopedia should spell Ukraine’s capital as “Kyiv” or “Kiev” which is  not a trivial matter. Since 2003, editors tried to change the spelling on the Ukraine’s Wikipedia page, taking advantage of the site’s open platform to modify it from “Kiev” to “Kyiv” and back again. “Kyiv” derives from the Ukrainian language, while “Kiev” has Russian-language roots and is seen by Ukrainians as an imperial imposition. 

Wikipedia editors are required to construct the encyclopedia pages using reliable sources. The policies generally prohibit Russia’s state-run media outlets, which are seen as unreliable, from being used in citations. 

English Wikipedia’s says the following about the publication Russia Today: “There is consensus that RT is an unreliable source … a mouthpiece of the Russian government that engages in propaganda and disinformation.” It’s important to note that there is not a singular Wikipedia, but rather at least 323 language editions, and that these language editions can vary considerably. For example, although English Wikipedia has seen a big increase in the amount of activity dedicated to Ukraine, the Ukrainian-language version has seen much less activity. 

Since the invasion, the number of article edits per day on Ukrainian Wikipedia has decreased by at least 50 percent, according to the Wikimedia Foundation, most likely because the Ukrainian editors have been busy with other more pressing matters.  

Georgia

One Wikipedia edition that has indicated its support for Ukraine is Georgian Wikipedia, the version for the language spoken in the country of Georgia, which like Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. 

Russia

At first, it might come as a surprise that Russian-language users on Russian Wikipedia would be willing to defy Putin’s preferred spin on events, especially given his government’s willingness to arrest its opponents

Many Russians are protesting against Putin’s war on social media, despite great threats to their personal safety.  Police recently detained more than 2,000 people at anti-war protests held in 48 cities across Russia , a protest monitoring group said, as people defied the authorities to show their anger over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

More than 5,500 people have been detained at various anti-war protests since the invasion began, according to the OVD-Info monitor, which has documented crackdowns on Russia's opposition for years.

Wikipedia/Twittrer:     Wikipedia:      Slate:    Slate:    Reuters:     Independent:    Endgadget:    NYPost:        

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Update: The Online War In Ukraine:

 

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