After shutting down several web services as important as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Russia could cut off access to Wikipedia. Before censorship, Russian Internet users rush to download the entire online encyclopedia.
Russia continues to cut itself off from the world. In response to sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States following the war in Ukraine, the country implemented a blocking policy for websites and online services which could affect Wikipedia. The famous participatory encyclopedia is increasingly the only window of verified information for Russian Internet users.
But the threat of blocking access to Wikipedia is becoming more insistent every day. Especially since the passing of a law which makes it illegal for anyone to free themselves from the language of the Kremlin, which continues to speak of a “special operation” in Ukraine when, of course, it is a war . The page of the encyclopedia devoted to Russian aggression in Ukraine is also the subject of very close surveillance by Moscow…
According to figures from Kiwix, a service that allows websites to be downloaded for offline viewing, Russian Internet users are rushing to retrieve the entire Wikipedia available in Russian, which represents 29 GB of data. During the first two weeks of March, Kiwix counted more than 100,000 downloads, or… 4,000% more than during the first fortnight of January!
It is clear that in Russia, Internet users fear a closure of Wikipedia, which has 1.8 million articles written in Russian (this is four times less than the number of pages in English). Rather than finding a blank page, they indeed prefer to be able to access an offline version of the encyclopedia, even if by nature this is no longer updated. If the Russian power bans Wikipedia, the only remaining solution will be to use a VPN. There, too, many Russians have downloaded these tools before they are in turn banned.