Wikipedia files appeal against Russian order on removing Ukraine war information

The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, has filed an appeal against a Moscow court order requiring it to erase material on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stating that people have a right to know the truth about the conflict.

The Wikimedia Foundation was fined 5 million roubles ($88,000) by a Moscow court for refusing to remove what it called “disinformation” from Russian-language Wikipedia articles on the war, including “The Russian Invasion of Ukraine,” “War Crimes During the Russian Invasion of Ukraine,” and “Massacre in Bucha.”

In a statement, Stephen LaPorte, Associate General Counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation, said, “This ruling indicates that well-sourced, verifiable knowledge on Wikipedia that is contradictory with Russian government accounts constitutes misinformation.”

After a crackdown on the media in Moscow, Wikipedia, which claims to give “the second draft of history,” is one of the only significant fact-checked Russian-language sources of information for Russians.

“In a moment of crisis, the government is targeting information that is critical to people’s lives,” LaPorte added. “We ask the court to reconsider in support of everyone’s right to free expression and access to knowledge.”

The Moscow court argued that the falsehoods on Wikipedia represented a threat to Russian public order, and that the Foundation, based in San Francisco, California, was acting within Russia.

A legislation was used to penalize the Foundation for failing to erase prohibited content. The lawsuit was launched by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications regulator, which did not reply to a request for comment on Wikipedia right away.

The Wikipedia appeal, which was submitted on June 6 and the contents of which were revealed on Monday, claims that deleting information violates human rights. It claimed that Russia had no control over the Wikimedia Foundation, which was available in more than 300 languages throughout the world.

Volunteers contribute to Wikipedia entries by writing and editing them.

Journalists in both Moscow and the West have been accused of misreporting the conflict, which is Europe’s largest ground invasion since World War Two.

Ukraine claims it is the victim of an unprovoked imperial land grab by Russia, and it will fight to the bitter end to restore the area seized by Russian soldiers. Kyiv has frequently requested additional assistance from the West in its struggle against Russia.

The phrases “war” and “invasion” are not used by Russian President Vladimir Putin or Russian authorities. They described it as a “special military operation” intended at protecting Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine from being persecuted.

Putin also claims that the battle is a watershed moment in Russian history, describing it as a rebellion by Moscow against the US, which he claims has humiliated Russia since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 and tried to expand NATO’s military alliance.

Moscow alleges that Russian speakers have been persecuted, which Ukraine and its Western backers reject. According to Kyiv, Russian soldiers have perpetrated war crimes in locations like Bucha, including executions, torture, and rape.

Russia claims that the supposed proof of war crimes is made up of well crafted forgeries, and that Ukraine and its Western sponsors have propagated lies about Russian soldiers.

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