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Russian police investigation into Wiki-extremism

by at 19/10/2010 13:10


The battle against extremism is going back into cyberspace – and this time it’s the Wikipedia empire which is coming under fire.

Russian police are checking out claims that Wikimedia.ru and it’s online library wikiteka.ru are harbouring extremist materials.

The case evokes echoes of a scandal in Russia’s far east earlier this year when YouTube – which recently welcomed the Russian Orthodox Church to its flock of subscribers – was blocked due to extremist content.


Wiki wars

Russian police have received complaints about extremist material, and are pursuing this, Russian Wiki head Vladimir Medeiko told RIA Novosti.

But so far staff at the online resource have not been told exactly which works are suspect.

In 2007 Russia’s justice ministry created a list of extremist materials which were banned from online distribution. Initially there were just 14 items, but the tally has now reached 706.

“We checked what materials from this list we could have, and found out that we had Mussolini’s book ‘The doctrine of fascism’. Maybe it is protected by copyright, and now the community is deciding whether it should be deleted or nor,” Wikimedia.ru executive Stanislav Kozlovsky told Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei. Texts are removed from Wikimedia if they infringe copyright.

Another potentially suspect text is a brochure by a public organisation called Voice of Beslan, Gazeta.ru reported.



Wiki cannot be prosecuted in Russia, regardless of what police find. All responsibility for content anywhere in the world lies with the Wikimedia Foundation’s international fund, which is registered in Florida and not subject to Russian law.

However that may not be enough to keep the materials – or even the site itself – online.

Earlier this year a court ruling in Komsomolsk-na-Amur blocked YouTube after complaints about extremist videos.

That decision was later overturned by a higher court, and internet services providers are only obliged to block certain pages, rather than the entire site.


Global pressure

It is not the first attempt by authorities to censor Wikipedia or close resources connected to it, the scandal with Wikileaks this year being the most high-profile. Julian Assange, 39, the Wikileaks founder from Australia said the Pentagon was looking to destroy the website which carries the slogan “We open governments,” The Telegraph reported.

Wikileaks, a source devoted to publishing various leaks from governments has been under fire from the US authorities after it published internal report on the operation in Afghanistan.

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