Russia Hits Wikipedia With Fine for Going Against Putin's War Narrative

The Kremlin claims Wikipedia is promoting misinformation about the Ukraine invasion and has fined the company two million rubles.

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Russia fined Wikipedia for misinformation
Image: Chris McGrath (Getty Images)

Russia issued a two million ruble fine ($27,000) to Wikipedia on Tuesday, claiming the site refused to remove “misinformation” about the country’s military involvement in the Ukraine War. The Kremlin issued a series of laws last year restricting reports that contradict Russia’s official message.

Repercussions include the possibility of indefinitely blocking or fining websites that are critical of the Russian regime and do not adhere to censorship laws. Wikipedia’s parent company, Wikimedia, has reportedly refused to remove the negative personification of Russia’s military and has not decided if it will appeal the two million ruble fine.


“So far, in the history of courts in Russia, Wikipedia has only had one successful experience of appealing court verdicts,” the head of the foundation’s Russian chapter, Stanislav Kozlovskiy, told Reuters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to push the narrative that the military’s takeover of Ukraine has been nothing short of successful even as reports indicate that Russian military supplies are low and Ukraine has maintained its hold over significant regions of the country including the Capital, Kyiv.


The takedown requests were for “well-sourced content,” Jacob Rogers, associate general counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation said in an emailed statement to Gizmodo.

As of Tuesday, Wikipedia’s site describes the Russian Armed Forces as having many “deficiencies” that have created setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine including “severe logistical failures,” various service branches’ inability to “coordinate and work together, … the large-scale destruction and squandering of their equipment, and a notably high casualty rate.”


More than 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in Ukraine, The New York Times reported earlier this month, while Putin claimed a Russian airstrike killed 600 Ukrainians, but Reuters reported there was no sign of damage or deaths.

This latest fine comes after the company was fined five million rubles ($82,000) in April last year and another two million rubles ($33,000) in November, both for posting information about the Ukraine invasion, the battle for Kyiv, Russian war crimes during the Ukraine invasion, and others.


Rogers said Wikimedia has received continued “takedown orders and fines from Russian authorities ... for failing to comply with similar requests.” He added that the company has already filed two appeals for Russia’s fines, but they’ll continue to refuse to adhere to the country’s demands.

Wikimedia has said it won’t back down and remove the content to protect Russians’ right to knowledge and free speech. “These orders are part of an ongoing effort by the Russian government to limit the spread of reliable, well-sourced information in the country. We condemn such efforts as pressure tactics, using legal liabilities to try to curb free knowledge.”


He continued, “The Wikimedia Foundation remains committed to defending the right of everyone to freely access and share knowledge, and we will stand by our mission to deliver free knowledge to the world.”

Updated: 2/28/2023 5:53 p.m. to include Wikimedia’s response to Gizmodo’s request for comment.