A Russian court on Tuesday fined the parent company of the online interactive encyclopedia Wikipedia two million rubles for two articles about the offensive against Ukraine that Moscow deemed untrue. According to Russian news agencies, the Wikimedia Foundation has to pay a fine of two million rubles (about 30,000 euros) for not removing these articles, which the court said contained “false information”.
“No one will delete” the two pages in question
The head of the Wikimedia RU association, which supports the projects of the Wikimedia Foundation in Russia, confirmed that this condemnation refers to “two articles on events in Ukraine”. “Nobody will delete” the two sides in question and the court’s decision “will be challenged in court,” Vladimir Medeïko told AFP.
The fine imposed on the online encyclopedia illustrates the repression by the Russian authorities against the organizations and individuals they accuse of publishing “false information” about the military intervention in Ukraine. This is the third fine that the Wikimedia Foundation has had to pay in Russia since the beginning of this conflict.
Internet, one of the last spaces for free speech in Russia
The main foreign social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were blocked, and the American digital giant Google was fined 360 million euros in July for failing to remove content published on YouTube criticizing the offensive in Ukraine . The Internet is one of the last spaces for freedom of expression in Russia, but the authorities have increased the pressure in recent years, and even more so since the beginning of the intervention in Ukraine.
In 2015, Moscow briefly added Wikipedia to its list of blocked sites for an article about charas, a cannabis strain. Russian law prohibits any online posting about the use of narcotics. In 2019, President Vladimir Putin called for the creation of a Russian alternative to Wikipedia.