Russia issued a two million ruble fine ($27,000) to Wikipedia on Tuesday, claiming the site refused to remove “misinformation” about the country’s military involvement in the Ukraine War. The Kremlin issued a series of laws last year restricting reports that contradict Russia’s official message.
Repercussions include the possibility of indefinitely blocking or fining websites that are critical of the Russian regime and do not adhere to censorship laws. Wikipedia’s parent company, Wikimedia, has reportedly refused to remove the negative personification of Russia’s military and has not decided if it will appeal the two million ruble fine.
“So far, in the history of courts in Russia, Wikipedia has only had one successful experience of appealing court verdicts,” the head of the foundation’s Russian chapter, Stanislav Kozlovskiy, told Reuters.
Wikimedia did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to push the narrative that the military’s takeover of Ukraine has been nothing short of successful even as reports indicate that Russian military supplies are low and Ukraine has maintained its hold over significant regions of the country including the Capital, Kyiv.
As of Tuesday, Wikipedia’s site describes the Russian Armed Forces as having many “deficiencies” that have created setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine including “severe logistical failures,” various service branches’ inability to “coordinate and work together, … the large-scale destruction and squandering of their equipment, and a notably high casualty rate.”
More than 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in Ukraine, The New York Times reported earlier this month, while Putin claimed a Russian airstrike killed 600 Ukrainians, but Reuters reported there was no sign of damage or deaths.
This latest fine comes after the company was fined five million rubles ($82,000) in April last year and another two million rubles ($33,000) in November, both for posting information about the Ukraine invasion, the battle for Kyiv, Russian war crimes during the Ukraine invasion, and others.
Wikimedia has said it refuses to back down and remove the content to protect Russians’ right to knowledge and free speech. “Accurate and reliable information is critical for people, especially in a time of crisis,” the foundation said in a release in November 2022.
“Russian-language Wikipedia is a crucial second draft of history, written by and for Russian speakers around the world. We will challenge any attempts to control and restrict this access to knowledge,” Jacob Rogers, Legal Director at the Wikimedia Foundation said in that same November press release.
He continued, “When governments attempt to suppress all points of view other than their own, they violate the human right to free expression and education and contribute to disinformation. We will continue to stand against such action.”