News / Europe

Russian Wikipedia Protests New Internet Legislation

Home page of ru.wikipedia.orgHome page of ru.wikipedia.org
x
Home page of ru.wikipedia.org
Home page of ru.wikipedia.org
The Russian version of the online reference source Wikipedia staged a one-day shutdown Tuesday to protest new legislation that would allow government authorities to blacklist certain web sites.

Russia's lawmaking body, the State Duma, is considering an amendment to a child-protection bill that would block access to sites that show child pornography or promote teen suicide or drug use.

Russian Wikipedia's title page on Tuesday featured a blacked-out logo and the message that lawmakers are considering a "law on information" that could lead to the creation of extra-judicial censorship of the Internet in Russia.  It compares the legislation to China's heavily restrictive Internet firewall and calls on readers to oppose the measure.

Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, says the Russian editors of the all-volunteer-written reference source decided among themselves to shut down the site for a day.  "This is all happening out of the Russian community," he says, adding that the editors fear the definition of objectionable material could be stretched to encompass far more than what is stated in the bill.  Noting that Wikipedia is set up as a so-called "free knowledge" project that relies on input from around the world, he says the Russian editors consider the legislation a threat to their freedom to contribute and publish freely.

Nina Ognianova is the Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists.  She says the new legislation is the latest piece in a pattern of Russian crackdowns on freedom of expression, along with higher fines for protest organizers and new regulations on non-governmental groups, or NGO's.

"This is the third wave," she says.  "It's a part of a pattern of censoring, stopping the new civil society from being active."  She calls the Internet "the last bastion of press freedom and freedom of expression in Russia," a platform for alternative views, in a state where the print and televised media are heavily controlled by the government.

Ognianova says the legislation under consideration is "vaguely worded" and could be used by state authorities to suppress civil rights defenders and expression of views seen by the government as undesirable.

The amendment is controversial even among Russian authorities.  Russia's minister of communications, Nikolai Nikiforov, used his social media Twitter feed Tuesday to criticize the bill - and the Wikipedia shutdown.  "I do not support Wiki's decision to close," he wrote.  "But this step is an important reaction from society, a sign that we need to amend the bill."

Russia's human rights council - a government advisory group - has also spoken out against the legislation, saying it could lead to "massive blocking" of sites with legal content.

The measure's backers say it is merely meant to protect children from information that harms their health and development.

The Duma is to make a second reading of the controversial legislation on Wednesday.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs