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Russia has threatened to fine Wikipedia almost $50,000 over what it describes as 'inaccurate information' relating to the country's actions in Ukraine.
Roskomnadzor, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, announced on Thursday (31 March) it was fining the website 4 million rubles (£36,900/$48,300) due to its 'failure to delete illegal information'.
The fine comes in relation to a Russian article on the site titled 'The Russian Invasion of Ukraine (2022)', which cites data from the United Nations as it discusses injuries and fatalities among both Ukrainians and Russians as a result of the war.
The entry, quoted by Newsweek, reads: "As a justification for the invasion, Vladimir Putin stated the need to protect the Donetsk People's Republic, the Luhansk People's Republic and Russia itself, and also used the unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine is a neo-Nazi state."
Shortly after Russia's invasion began on February 24, Russia’s communications regulator ordered independent media to remove reports describing the conflict as an 'assault', 'invasion' or 'declaration of war'.
Putin himself referred to the conflict as a 'special military operation' when he ordered troops across the border, claiming it involved 'de-militarisation' and 'de-Nazification'.
In its statement about the fine, Roskomnadzor accused the Wikipedia page of containing 'false information on the subject of a special military operation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine aimed at misinforming Russian users'.
On 24 February, the Russian government launched a large-scale military invasion of Ukraine.— Wikipedia (@Wikipedia) March 4, 2022
The English Wikipedia article about the invasion has been edited 5,200+ times by 863 volunteers, viewed over 12.1 million times, and translated into 100 languages: https://t.co/FlKG8ErBAB pic.twitter.com/eloJKMtXOK
The site had already received two warnings from the agency, with the second warning saying the 'illegal' information must be deleted within a day of receipt of the notice.
Sent on 28 March, the warning claimed the article contained 'inaccurate information about the special military operation to protect the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics for the de-militarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine'.
"In particular, in the article, the special military operation is called 'Russia's invasion of Ukraine', 'Russian aggression against Ukraine', 'Russian-Ukrainian war' and 'war'," the notice said.
It further claimed information about 'numerous victims among the servicemen of the Russian Federation, as well as the civilian population of Ukraine, including children' in the article did not correspond with 'the official data published by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation'.
Wikipedia has already made clear its plans to resist censorship, saying in a statement sent to The Verge in early March it had 'received a Russian government demand to remove content related to the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine'.
It continued: "As ever, Wikipedia is an important source of reliable, factual information in this crisis. In recognition of this important role, we will not back down in the face of efforts to censor and intimidate members of our movement. We stand by our mission to deliver free knowledge to the world.”
Following the start of the invasion, the Russian parliament passed a law that criminalises the distribution of 'fake news' relating to the country's military, with those convicted facing up to 15 years in jail.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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