June 8, 2023


A Moscow court has fined the Wikimedia Foundation for refusing to remove an article on Russian-language Wikipedia called “The Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhia region,” according to state media.

The foundation — which owns Wikipedia, a site with pages in around 300 languages, including Russian — has been fined 2 million rubles ($24,500), Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported Thursday.

The court documents allege that Wikimedia refused to remove “material” about the hostilities “within the framework of the special military operation” in Ukraine and about the country’s Zaporizhzhia region becoming part of Russia, TASS said.

Leighanna Mixter, senior legal manager at Wikimedia, confirmed the fine to CNN and said that, over recent months, the foundation had received “a steady stream of takedown orders that target well-sourced content on Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects.”

“The information at issue on Wikipedia continues to be well-sourced and in line with applicable Wikipedia policies,” she added.

Wikimedia had also been fined in Russia last week and in February, TASS reported.

There have been debates in Russia about banning Wikipedia. Asked about the possibility of shutting down the website in the country, the Kremlin said last week that a Russian alternative needed to be developed first.

Russia needs its own equivalent of the online encyclopedia due to the Kremlin’s concerns about the “inaccuracies, distortions,” and “historical and factual errors” on Wikipedia, said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.


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