As the Russian-Ukraine conflict continues on, many other parties have found themselves inadvertently part of it, with sports and tech for instance also affected by the conflict. Wikipedia just so happens to be caught in the crossfire too, as the Russian authorities have issued a notice to Wikimedia Russia threatening to block the site.
The threat appears to be over the Wikipedia article titled ‘2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine’, and comes from the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, also known as the Roskomnadzor. The Roskomnadzor claimed that the Wikipedia page has several false messages over the military casualties suffered by Russia as well as the sanctions placed on Russian bank accounts. They are also demanding that the Wikimedia Foundation address the edits made to the article.
In response, Wikimedia Russia has said that these claims are ‘fundamentally impossible’ to evaluate, and also discouraged the Russian authorities from blocking access to the article as it would mean blocking the whole of Wikipedia too. Furthermore, they note that the page is being updated all the time thanks to its volunteer army of editors, working to ensure that no one insets fake or misleading information into the article. Indeed, if you go to the article now, you’ll notice a lock symbol on the top right, indicating that the article has been locked due to vandalism.
Wikimedia Russia adds that with Wikipedia acting as a crucial source of reliable and factual information as the Russian-Ukraine conflict goes on. They also refuse to back down in light of the censorship threats made by the Roskomnadzor and stand by their goal of bringing knowledge to the public for free.
This would be far from the first time that Russia has tried to censor Wikipedia before either. Back in 2015, the Russian government straight up blocked the website over charas, a type of cannabis. However, in times of international conflict, Russia’s attempt to censor information could be seen as an attempt to control the narrative. As such, the Wikimedia’s decision to stand by their ground should be lauded, in spite of the threats they’ve received.