The Wikimedia Foundation has said it will not back down after the Russian regulators threatened to block it over an article covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Tech and communications regulator Roskomnadzor had threatened to block Wikipedia, claiming the article on its website contained “false messages” about war casualties and the effects of economic sanctions.
The English Wikipedia article about the invasion has been viewed over 11.3 million times (as of March 3), and there are articles about the topic in over 99 languages.
In a statement late on Thursday, Wikimedia Foundation said it has “never backed down in the face of government threats to deny people their fundamental human right to access free, open, and verifiable information”.
The Wikimedia Foundation received a Russian government demand to remove the article related to the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine posted by volunteer contributors to Russian Wikipedia – the statement read.
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“The information available on Wikipedia is sourced and shared by volunteers who invest time and effort to ensure that the content is fact-based and reliable,” it added.
As the invasion continues, Ukrainian volunteers have continued to add content and make edits to Wikipedia, even in the face of deep hardship.
“The takedown request threatened censorship. Denying people access to reliable information, at a time of crisis, can have life-altering consequences,” said the Foundation.
The Foundation has joined Wikimedia Russia, the independent Russia-based Wikimedia affiliate and the broader community of Russian Wikipedia volunteers, “in defending the right of volunteers to continue their diligent work of editing Wikipedia with the most up-to-date and reliable information available related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.
“We will not back down in the face of efforts to censor and intimidate members of our movement. We stand by our mission to deliver free knowledge to the world,” said the Foundation.
The Russian regulators have sent a number of complaints about Wikipedia pages in the past.
The government had outright blocked the site in 2015 over a cannabis-related article.