Russia threatens Wikipedia with $50,000 fine for ignoring Ukraine warning


Russia’s telecommunications regulator has doubled down on its warning to Wikipedia in Russian over an article it says contains “inaccurate information” about the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Roskomnadzor said on Thursday he was fining Wikipedia up to 4 million rubles (about $49,000) for refusing to delete information about the war in Ukraine launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24.

In a press release, the agency said it was imposing the fine due to Wikipedia’s “failure to remove illegal information”.

Russian-language Wikipedia contains “false information about a special military operation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine aimed at misinforming Russian users”, he said.

The article in question, titled “The Russian invasion of Ukraine (2022)”, mentions injuries and deaths among Ukrainian civilians citing UN data, as well as deaths among Russian servicemen.

Russian authorities have banned the media from calling Putin’s invasion a ‘war’ or an ‘invasion’ – state media is adopting the term ‘special military operation’. Putin said on February 24 that he wanted to disarm Ukraine and eliminate the threat it posed to Russia’s national security. He used the terms “demilitarization” and “denazification.”

“To justify the invasion, Vladimir Putin declared the need to protect the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Luhansk People’s Republic and Russia itself, and also used the unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine is a neo-state. -nazi,” the Wikipedia entry reads.

Civilian deaths

The article quotes Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch saying that Russian forces launched indiscriminate missile strikes on residential areas, hospitals and other social infrastructure in Ukraine.

It also cites reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights last month that 13 civilians were killed and 47 injured after Russia used cluster munitions in residential areas of Vuhledar and Kharkov.

Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure.

This comes days after Wikipedia received a second warning from Roskomnadzor.

On March 28, the communications agency said in its notice that the article contained “inaccurate information about the special military operation to protect the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.” .

“In particular, in the article, the special military operation is called ‘Russian invasion of Ukraine’, ‘Russian aggression against Ukraine’, ‘Russian-Ukrainian war’ and ‘war’,” the report said. ‘opinion.

Russian losses

“The material contains information on numerous casualties among the military of the Russian Federation, as well as the civilian population of Ukraine, including children, which does not correspond to official data released by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation,” he said. .

The Wikipedia entry quotes the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as saying on March 30 that the Russian military had lost around 17,300 people. It also quotes the Defense Ministry of the Donetsk People’s Republic as saying 47 fighters have been killed and 406 injured since February 24.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on March 25 that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed in action and 3,850 wounded. The Wikipedia article refers to these numbers.

The March 28 notice specifies that information disseminated in violation of the law must be removed within one day of receiving the warning.

Newsweek contacted Roskomnadzor, Wikipedia and Russian authorities for additional comments.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the San Francisco-based parent organization of Wikipedia, said in a March 3 statement that it “will not back down from efforts to censor and intimidate members of our movement.”

Media censorship

Roskomnadzor has also cracked down on independent media in Russia for reporting on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Monday, Russia’s leading independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta became the latest outlet to suspend operations after receiving warnings from Roskomnadzor.

“We received another warning from Roskomnadzor. After that, we stop covering both online and in print until the end of the ‘special operation on the territory of Ukraine,'” the editors said. of Novaya Gazeta on social networks.

The Russian-language Wikipedia entry notes that one of the reasons Roskomnadzor blocked a number of Russian and foreign media outlets was their characterization of Russia’s actions as an “attack”, “invasion” or “declaration”. of war”.

Wikipedia is unusual in that the online encyclopedia “is written collaboratively by largely anonymous volunteers”, as the Wikipedia article itself says.

Last month, Russia’s parliament passed a law that criminalizes spreading “fake news” about the Russian military. Those convicted face up to 15 years in prison.

Computer screen showing the website of the free online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Russian telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor on Thursday redoubled its warning to Russian-language Wikipedia about an article it says contains “inaccurate information” about the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty Images


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