Russia not planning Wikipedia block for now, minister says

In this file photo taken on December 4, 2012 the Wikipedia logo is seen on a tablet screen in Paris. (AFP)


Russia is “not yet” planning to block Wikipedia, its minister of digital affairs said on Tuesday as a Moscow court handed the online encyclopedia another fine for failing to remove content Russia deems illegal.

Wikipedia is one of the few surviving independent sources of information in Russian since a state crackdown on online content intensified after Moscow sent its armed forces into Ukraine.

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“We are not blocking Wikipedia yet, there are no such plans for now,” Interfax news agency quoted digital affairs minister Maksut Shadaev as saying.

Wikipedia said in an emailed statement it would “continue to provide access to Wikipedia for Russian speakers around the world who find value in the site and endeavor to protect everyone’s right to access.”

On Tuesday, a Moscow court fined Wikipedia owner Wikimedia Foundation 800,000 roubles ($9,777) for what Russian agencies said was a failure to remove information considered to be promoting train hopping, where a person rides on the side or top of a train.

Wikimedia has previously said information that Russian authorities complained about was well sourced and in line with Wikipedia standards.

Russia has for years sought to launch a home-grown online encyclopedia, without making much progress.

Russia has similarly struggled to establish a comparable video hosting service to Alphabet’s YouTube, which remains available while other foreign social media platforms are blocked.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said on Tuesday a court had ordered Google to pay 1 billion rubles for blocking the Duma TV YouTube channel.

“Today, the bailiff service has started seizing property, in search of these funds,” Volodin said.

Google in Russia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Interfax news agency later said communications regulator Roskomnadzor was seeking to fine Google up to 4 million rubles for refusing to remove content banned in Russia. The case will be heard in a Moscow court on April 20.

Last September a court upheld a fine of 21.7 billion rubles against Google’s Russian subsidiary for repeated failure to delete information related to the campaign in Ukraine.

The subsidiary filed for bankruptcy after authorities seized its bank account. The US tech giant has paused commercial operations in Russia, but free services remain available.

Russia also fined Amazon’s Twitch 4 million rubles for failing to delete “false information” about Moscow’s campaign. Twitch had no immediate comment.

Read more:

Russia fines Wikipedia for article about Ukraine war

Russia fines Wikimedia Foundation $32,600 over Ukraine war entries


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