Wikipedia challenges Russian order to remove Ukraine war information | News | DW

The foundation that owns Wikipedia announced Monday that it had filed an appeal against a Moscow court’s ruling fining it five million rubles ($88,000, €83,260) for refusing to remove information related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s appeal argues that people have a right to truthful information about the conflict.

The Moscow court said the fine pertains to what it incorrectly terms “disinformation” in Russian-language articles focused on what Moscow acknowledges as a “special military operation.”

Why did the Moscow court fine Wikipedia?

The Wikipedia articles deemed questionable by the court focus on such sensitive topics in Russia as war crimes carried out by Russian forces in Bucha and beyond, as well as the invasion itself, which Russia terms a “special military operation.”

Following a severe crackdown on Russian media, which includes a prohibition on accurately reporting on the war, Wikipedia remains one of the few fact checked sources of information available to the Russian public.

In its decision, the lower court said the truthful and fact-checked information “poses risk of mass public disorder in Russia.”

Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications regulator, brought the case against Wikipedia, charging that the user-generated and edited encyclopedia site is a purveyor of banned information.

Unsurprisingly, the court’s decision did not acknowledge the depths to which the Russian state has gone to conceal the reality of the brutality of its invasion of Ukraine. By contrast to the accurate information on Wikipedia, Russian media and government officials have repeatedly dehumanized Ukrainians and focused on striking a bellicose tone towards the West.

What is the basis for Wikipedia’s appeal?

In a statement, the Wikimedia Foundation, said, “The information at issue is fact-based and verified by volunteers who continuously edit and improve articles on the site; its removal would therefore constitute a violation of people’s rights to free expression and access to knowledge.” 

Stephen LaPorte, the associate general counsel for the foundation, added, “The government is targeting information that is vital to people’s lives in a time of crisis.”

The Wikimedia Foundation is headquartered in San Francisco, California. In its appeal, the foundation argues the Russian court has no jurisdiction over the site which is available in more than 300 languages worldwide.

The appeal was filed June 6 but details were released Monday.

Reuters news agency contributed to this report 

Edited by: Wesley Dockery

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