by Stephen Johnson
04 December, 2019
Mikhail Svetlov / Contributor
The encyclopedia offers
more "reliable" information than Wikipedia,
said Russian President Vladimir Putin...
A government resolution said the measure will ensure that,
that is constantly updated on the basis of scientifically
verified sources of knowledge."
The move is likely part
of Russia's effort to crack down on citizens'
Russia has centuries-old history of censorship, and state officials
have even been observed to edit Wikipedia articles to serve Russian
Wikipedia is full of unreliable information, Russian President
Vladimir Putin said last month.
Replace it with an
electronic version of the Great Russian Encyclopedia, an existing
reference work whose content is possibly influenced by the Russian
Wikipedia… it's better to replace it with the new Big
Russian Encyclopedia in electronic form," Russian news
agency RIA Novosti
quoted Putin as saying at a Kremlin meeting in November.
that will be reliable information, presented in a good,
resolution said the measure will ensure that,
information that is constantly updated on the basis of
scientifically verified sources of knowledge."
But upon the
launch of encyclopedia's latest iteration, in 2017, writer
told the Christian Science Monitor that while some
of the pieces featured in the work were "excellent," others were
shallow and biased.
through several articles that pertain to my area of
expertise, and found them quite superficial. The lists of
references at the end were often extremely biased."
Of course, the
new measure will also help Russia crack down even harder on
citizens' Internet access, a longstanding project of the
In 2017, Russia
said it plans to route 95 percent of Internet traffic through
its own servers by 2020.
Earlier this year,
Russia conducted an experiment in which it briefly
disconnected itself from global servers to test how well it
functioned on its self-contained Internet.
The test seemed
designed, in part, to bolster safeguard measures in the event
that Russia was attacked in an act of cyber warfare.
But it's also
possible that Russia is exploring new ways to make its
even more censored, surveilled and isolated from outside
In March, for
example, Russia passed legislation banning the publication of
"unreliable socially significant information" and content that
shows "clear disrespect" for the government.
Under this law,
multiple people were fined for sharing a video about the lack of
schools in a province of Russia, according to a report from the
Russian media freedom watchdog
Why Russia dislikes Wikipedia
Maybe it's no
wonder why Russia wants to axe Wikipedia, a crowd-sourced
website that currently hosts entries like,
Wikipedia page mentions accusations that Putin had elections
rigged and his critics tortured and murdered.
It also has a
section titled "Comparison
There's also a
Wikipedia entry for Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot
down over a part of Ukraine occupied by pro-Russian separatists
That same year,
a Twitter bot that monitors edits made to Wikipedia pages found
that an Internet user affiliated with Russian state media
changed the following sentence:
The plane was shot down by
terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic
with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from
the Russian Federation.
The plane was shot down by
accused four pro-Russian military officials of being
involved in the attacks.
Centuries of censorship
history of vying to maintain top-down information control at all
costs dates back to the 18th century.
And it makes
sense, from the perspective of the few in control:
would lose power if it's unable to control how citizens access
and share information, as Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil.,
Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, told
understood that it doesn't take too many additional edges in
the network to destroy the dominance of that central node.
So one way
of thinking about this is:
imagine a pyramidal structure,
imagine something kind of like a Christmas tree, and there's
the big guy like the fairy on top of the Christmas tree.
that on this Christmas tree the lights are just connected to
the fairy, they're not connected to one another, and
therefore the fairy decides if the lights go on or off. It's
a peculiar kind of Christmas tree.
essentially a hierarchical network.
take too many connections, as it were - lateral or
horizontal connections - between the lights to reduce the
centrality of the fairy on the tree, and ultimately you
could end up illuminating the tree without needing the fairy
Putin proposes to replace
Wikipedia with 'reliable' Russian version
November 11, 2019
Days after a new law in Russia came into effect meaning
Russian government authorities can isolate its own
Internet, the Russian president said he wanted a Russian
version of Wikipedia with "reliable information."
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed
replacing the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia
Wikipedia with a Russian version.
"It's better to replace it with the Big Russian new
encyclopedia in electronic form… here it will be in
any case, reliable information in a good modern
form" the RIA Novosti news agency reported
Putin saying on Tuesday.
Russian President was speaking at a meeting of the
Russian Language Council, held at the Kremlin.
Kremlin announced in September in a draft law that it
plans to spend ₽1.7 billion for the creation of the
Russian version of the online Wikipedia during the
publishing house which publishes the paper copy of the
Russian Encyclopedia will receive the money to create
the electronic version.
Russia's own Internet
statement follows just a day after
a new law went into effect meaning Russian authorities can
disconnect its Internet from the rest of the world's -
forming a nationwide intranet.
country also plans to create an independent Russian
Domain Name System (DNS) in 2021.
will mean that the Russian government would have control
over which sites users are directed to.