The Wikimedia Foundation is challenging a Russian court ruling that it violated disinformation laws in articles about the invasion of Ukraine. The organization filed its appeal last week, arguing that the articles contained “well-researched and verified knowledge” and that Russia does not have jurisdiction over the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates globally.
A Moscow court fined Wikimedia 5 million rubles (about $65,000) after an April ruling that covered seven articles in Russian, including Russian invasions of Ukraine (2022), war crimes during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the bombing of the Mariupol hospital and the massacre. in Bucha. The decision followed an order by Russia’s technology and communications agency Roskomnadzor, as well as the passage of a “fake news” law that imposed criminal penalties for grassroots reporting on the invasion, including referring to well-documented Russian casualties and war crimes or portraying the operation as a war. Google was also fined in April and its Russian subsidiary declared bankruptcy after its bank account was frozen for nonpayment.
“This decision implies that well-researched and verified information on Wikipedia that is inconsistent with Russian government accounts constitutes disinformation,” Stephen LaPorte, associate general counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a statement. “The government is targeting information vital to people’s lives in times of crisis. We urge the court to reconsider in favor of everyone’s rights to access to knowledge and freedom of expression. He filed the appeal on June 6 and the Russian government will have the opportunity to respond in the coming weeks.
Roskomnadzor has periodically asked Wikipedia to remove content in the past, but its war against Wikipedia – and other websites – escalated after the invasion. Wikipedia volunteers have also faced challenges outside of Russia, including the arrest of an editor in Belarus in March.