Russians are downloading Wikipedia in droves as possible ban looms

Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine is now entering its fourth week with no end in sight. Thanks to the Russian President Vladimir PoutineAs a result, the country has been largely cut off from the West – whether through sanctions and boycotts or by Russia itself repressing its citizens’ access to information from the rest of the world.

A source of information specifically targeted by the Kremlin: Wikipedia.

With the realization that this immense source of free knowledge may soon be taken away, those living in Russia are Download the entire Russian version of Wikipedia in order to access content offline if needed.

Downloading the entire Wikipedia seems like a daunting task. However, Kiwix, an organization that runs a free web browser explicitly designed for offline reading, has helped make the process quite simple. The non-profit organization has already compiled the 1.8 million articles found in the Russian version of Wikipedia as a downloadable torrent. (In case you were wondering, yes, Wikipedia terms To allow this.) The file comes in at 29 GB.

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Reports for Slatewriter Annie Rauwerda dived into Kiwix’s public stats and found that the number of Russian Wikipedia downloads had increased in recent weeks. It has already been downloaded 148,457 times this month so far. As Rauwerda points out, this represents an increase of more than 4,000% in downloads in March compared to January of this year.

The Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (abbreviated Roskomnadzor), aka its censorship agency, threatens to block Wikipedia in the country earlier this month. The agency took issue with Wikipedia’s entry on the “Russian invasion of Ukraine (2022)The Wikipedia page on the events obviously does not follow the propaganda offered by the Kremlin regarding the war, and Russia wants to cut off access to any media that does not follow its official account.

Wikipedia responded a few days later and rejected Russia’s demand that the free encyclopedia be self-censoring.

Russia has yet to ban Wikipedia, but many in the country fear that possibility is very real, as Kiwix download statistics confirm. Putin has already banned social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Wikipedia can easily be next. This would not neither was the first time Russia blocked Wikipedia.

The Kiwix Wikipedia torrent is one of the many tools that Russian citizens have used to resist the complete cut off from the outside world. With entries like “Russian Invasion of Ukraine (2022)” bringing unbiased facts to the Russian people, it will be difficult for Putin to continue to successfully broadcast his own account of events. And this is also an extremely important aspect in helping to end the war.

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