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Wikimedia says it 'won't back down' after Russia threatens to block Wikipedia

Wikimedia says it 'won't back down' after Russia threatens to block Wikipedia

The Wikimedia Foundation has issued a statement supporting Russian Wikipedia volunteers after demanding censorship from Internet regulators. On Tuesday, technology and communications regulator Roskomnadzor threatened to block Wikipedia on a Russian-language page covering Russia's invasion of Ukraine, claiming it contained "falsehoods" about war casualties and the effects of economic sanctions. messages" are included.

“On March 1st 2022 the Wikimedia Foundation received a demand from the Russian Government to remove material relating to the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine posted by volunteer contributors to Russian Wikipedia,” reads the statement sent to The Verge via email. "As always, Wikipedia is an important source of reliable, factual information in this crisis. Recognizing this important role, we will not hold back in the face of attempts to censor and intimidate members of our movement. We will help the world." We stand by our mission of providing free knowledge."

Roskomnadzor's requisition, which was posted to the Russian Wikipedia's Telegram channel, from the February 27 edition of the article, calls for user edits to the Wikimedia address. As translated by Wikimedia Russia, it contains information about "multiple casualties among the civilian population of Ukraine, including military personnel of the Russian Federation as well as children", as well as "the need to withdraw funds from accounts". takes in information. banks in the Russian Federation in relation to sanctions imposed by foreign states." (While the casualties of the war are difficult to estimate, the United Nations has confirmed hundreds of civilian deaths in Ukraine since the conflict began last week, which included at least 13 children, and acknowledged that its numbers underestimated the actual death rate.)
Wikimedia Russia called it "fundamentally impossible" to evaluate the claims and urged the government not to block access to the article – which would effectively require blocking access to all Wikipedia. It also noted that the page is constantly changing, thanks to the work of many of its editors. "All of these people have very different views on what's going on, and they are very careful to make sure no one puts out misinformation or misleading words," the group wrote.

As input notes, Russian authorities have sent several complaints about Wikipedia pages in the past. The government completely blocked the site in 2015 over a cannabis-related article, but the blackout was short-lived. However, the current threat is part of a larger online crackdown around the invasion - one that has seen Russia block Twitter and Facebook in an effort to control the narrative surrounding the war. Censorship was threatened by Tuesday's removal request. The Wikimedia statement warned that denying people access to reliable information during a time of crisis could have life-changing consequences.

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