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July 10, 2012

\’Imagine a world without free knowledge\’, in Russia

‘Imagine a world without free knowledge’, in Russia

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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Screenshot of the blacked-out Russian-language version of Wikipedia. Using wordplay on the Wikipedia slogan, it states:

Imagine a world without free knowledge.”

Access to the Russian-language Wikipedia is disabled across almost all its pages today, due to the Russian parliament, the Duma, debating amendments to the law “About information” which may lead to censorship of Runet through blacklisting and filtering of internet sites.

The proposed bill aims to creating a blacklist of internet sites alleged to host child pornography, drug related material, extremist material and other content illegal in the country. It also proposed several other changes in the law, including holding providers of telecommunication services liable for failing to protect children.

Critics, including Google, Yahoo, search engine Yandex and social networking site Vkontakte noted that as-written the legislation contained many technical faults likely to negatively impact legitimate internet use. In protest, the Russian Wikipedia community decided upon a near-total blackout of contents on July 10. The blackout banner includes the text: “Imagine a world without free knowledge”, and summarises the details of the bill. Readers are warned that articles, such as Suicide, may be considered “harmful” due to ambiguity in the proposed legislation, risking a block of the entire website by Russia-based Internet providers.

Later in the day, the popular blogging platform LiveJournal issued a statement similarly opposed to the legislation: “[…Livejournal] considers the introduction of any restrictions on freedom of expression and information in the Internet to be unacceptable.”

The announcement by the Russian Wikimedia community states:

Wikipedia in Russian will be closed on July 10th because of the Russian parliament’s debate on amendments to the law «About information» that could create real censorship of the internet — a blacklisting and filtering of internet sites.

Supporters of the law proposed say that it is aimed only at widely prohibited content such as child pornography and «information like this», but conditions for determining the content falling under this law will create a thing like the «great Chinese firewall». The existing Russian law’s practice shows the high possibility of the worst scenario, in which access to Wikipedia soon will be closed in the country.

On July 11 the second reading of the law in the State Duma will take place. The law will come into force after the third reading, for which a date has not yet been set.

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In January, the English-language Wikipedia ran a similar ‘blackout protest’ for 24 hours, protesting US anti-piracy laws the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). That action resulted in those laws being reconsidered. An earlier blackout, in October last year, saw the Italian Wikipedia community successfully oppose other Internet censorship legislation.

Speaking to Wikinews in January, the Wikimedia Foundation’s chief executive, Sue Gardner, explained “[t]he Wikimedia movement does not have a lot of experience with advocacy, and probably mistakes will get made. At this time the Wikimedia Foundation doesn’t have any plans to develop policy governing protests or advocacy work. But, I think it probably does make sense for the Foundation to create venues for these discussions”.

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  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Russian State Duma Bill 89417-6

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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Russian Wikipedia goes on strike against Internet censorship in Russia

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Russia
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Location of Russia

A map showing the location of Russia

More information on Russia:
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  • Geography
  • History
  • Politics

Screenshot of the blacked-out Russian-language version of Wikipedia. Using wordplay on the Wikipedia slogan, it states:

Imagine a world without free knowledge.”

Access to the Russian-language Wikipedia is disabled across almost all its pages today, due to the Russian parliament, the Duma, debating amendments to the law “About information” which may lead to censorship of Runet through blacklisting and filtering of internet sites.

The proposed bill aims to creating a blacklist of internet sites alleged to host child pornography, drug related material, extremist material and other content illegal in the country. It also proposed several other changes in the law, including holding providers of telecommunication services liable for failing to protect children.

Critics, including Google and Yahoo, noted that as-written the legislation contained many technical faults likely to negatively impact legitimate internet use. In protest, the Russian Wikipedia community decided upon a near-total blackout of contents on July, 10. The blackout banner includes the text: “Imagine a world without free knowledge”, and summarises the details of the bill. Readers are warned that articles, such as Suicide, may be considered “harmful” due to ambiguity in the proposed legislation, risking a block of the entire website by Russia-based Internet providers.

Later in the day, the popular blogging platform LiveJournal issued a statement similarly opposed to the legislation: “[…Livejournal] considers the introduction of any restrictions on freedom of expression and information in the Internet to be unacceptable.”

The annoucement by the Russian Wikimedia community states:

Wikipedia in Russian will be closed on July 10th because of the Russian parliament’s debate on amendments to the law «About information» that could create real censorship of the internet — a blacklisting and filtering of internet sites.

Supporters of the law proposed say that it is aimed only at widely prohibited content such as child pornography and «information like this», but conditions for determining the content falling under this law will create a thing like the «great Chinese firewall». The existing Russian law’s practice shows the high possibility of the worst scenario, in which access to Wikipedia soon will be closed in the country.

On July 11 the second reading of the law in the State Duma will take place. The law will come into force after the third reading, for which a date has not yet been set.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Wikinews commentary.svg
Do you think Wikipedia should engage in this sort of advocacy?
Add or view comments

In January, the English-language Wikipedia ran a similar ‘blackout protest’ for 24 hours, protesting US anti-piracy laws the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). That action resulted in those laws being reconsidered. An earlier blackout, in October last year, saw the Italian Wikipedia community successfully oppose other Internet censorship legislation.

Speaking to Wikinews in January, the Wikimedia Foundation’s chief executive, Sue Gardner, explained “[t]he Wikimedia movement does not have a lot of experience with advocacy, and probably mistakes will get made. At this time the Wikimedia Foundation doesn’t have any plans to develop policy governing protests or advocacy work. But, I think it probably does make sense for the Foundation to create venues for these discussions”.

Related news

  • “Wikinews interviews Sue Gardner on Wikipedia blackout” — Wikinews, January 18, 2012
  • “Wikipedia, Reddit in ‘blackout’ against SOPA, PROTECT IP laws” — Wikinews, January 17, 2012

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Russian State Duma Bill 89417-6

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

June 8, 2012

Putin signs law inceasing fines for illegal protestors

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Friday, June 8, 2012

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President Vladimir Putin of Russia today signed a new law increasing the fines available against those involved in unlawful protests, overriding concerns from his human rights advisor and the Council of Europe.

Putin, seen here in his official portrait, is facing protests against his third term as President.

The measure was proposed by ruling United Russia after May 7 protests coinciding with Putin’s third inauguration saw clashes between protestors and police, with 400 arrests. The United Russia-dominated State Duma voted 241–147 in favour earlier this week, ahead of a protest scheduled for Russia Day, June 12, in Moscow against Putin’s twelve-year rule.

The new legislation increases maximum fines for individuals involved in illegal protests from 100 rubles (US$3) to 10,000 rubles (US$300), but those breaching “the established rules of conduct” face fines of up to 20,000 rubles, up from a previous high of 1,000 rubles. Officials caught engaging in illegal demonstrations have had their maximum penalty increased from 50,000 to 600,000 rubles (upper equivalent: US$20,000).

Organisers of protests that result in injury or damage can be fined up to 300,000 rubles. Smaller violations can be dealt with by detention of up to fifteen days, and up to 200 hours of community service is available as an alternative sentence to a fine. Protestors are banned from concealing their faces and nobody with a criminal record may organise a protest.

Supporters say the bill is required for public safety. Putin explained protests “must be organized in such way that they inflict no damages to other citizens, who do not take part in them” and insisted authorities “should apply the new law in such a way that it does not limit the citizens’ right for expression over any issue of internal or external politics, including street marches, events and rallies”.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, said the law would be published in Saturday’s edition of the Rossiyskaya Gazeta; it takes effect instantly upon publication. He said the law matched similar legislation in other European nations. Irina Yarovaya, who leads the State Duma’s Security and Anti-Corruption Committee, agreed that health and safety was the law’s top priority.

Demonstrators at a rally earlier this year, with banners showing support for parties including communists and Yabloko.

Yarovaya noted the ‘youth’ of democracy in Russia, saying “We are only beginning to have the experience that other countries have been accumulating for decades and centuries.” She said Putin’s “political mission” is “protection of public security and national interests of the country”.

Putin says he investigated the laws of European Union members, and found “There is nothing in our law which would have been more tough than similar legislation in the countries I named,” which included Germany, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. He today spoke of last year’s “mass riots, torched cars and robbed stores” in the UK.

The law has faced local and international criticism. Mikhail Fedotov, chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Council, urged Putin to veto the law and said much depended on enforcement, which he hoped to be “moderate”. The Council claims it breaches existing legislation including the constitution.

Presidential copy of the Constitution, which Kremlin advisors say is breached by the new law.

Cquote1.svg A society which permits rallies and marches must protect itself from radicalism Cquote2.svg

—Vladimir Putin

Igor Lebedev, a prominent Liberal Democrat, said Putin’s signature was “absolutely expected”. The Liberal Democrats opposed the bill. Yalboko leader Sergey Mitrokhin called the law “a ban on holding rallies and political actions” which he cannot organise protests against because “Now anyone can be punished with slave labor or a crazy fine. I can’t gather people for a rally knowing that they might be sent straight to the galleys from there”.

Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-President of the former USSR, characterised today’s signing as “a mistake” that could leave revisions necessary. Putin himself acknowledged the possibility; “Nothing we have is frozen solid. If we find out the MPs have missed something, that something must be laid out in a different way… we can approach the State Duma deputies, look at how the law is applied and ask them to make some corrections.”

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Russia’s opposition says Putin’s true motivation is to provide a response to the planned June 12 rally against him, which stems from widespread claims of irregularities in this year’s Presidential election. Ilya Yashin, a leader of the movement, called the law “absolutely irresponsible policy” that would not deter protestors. “The authorities are fighting against the protests, instead of fighting against the injustice that is causing them,” said Yashin.

The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly also spoke out against the law. Putin, however, cautioned that “A society which permits rallies and marches must protect itself from radicalism”.



Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg 2011–2012 Russian protests
  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Freedom of assembly in Russia

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April 27, 2010

Smoke bomb thrown in Ukrainian parliament during naval base debate

Smoke bomb thrown in Ukrainian parliament during naval base debate

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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Chaos broke out in the Ukrainian parliament as several smoke bombs were thrown during a debate about the extended lease on a Russian naval base in Ukraine. Members of parliament were seen fighting on the chamber floor while opposition MPs threw eggs at the speaker of the house, Volodymyr Lytvyn.

It is not clear who threw the smoke bombs, although opposition MPs were thought to be responsible, but the debate continued despite the lingering smoke and chaos. The speaker had to be protected by two aides holding umbrellas and politicians held handkerchiefs to their mouths.

Along with the brawling MPs, thousands of people waited outside the parliament building protesting the extended lease.

The clashes began as members of parliament were debating extending the lease on the Sevastopol naval base. The Russians currently have a lease on the base until 2017. The Russians have offered Ukraine cheaper supplies of Russian natural gas in exchange for a further 25 years on the lease.

After the chaos had calmed down, MPs voted on the agreement and the deal extending the lease was backed 236 to 214. The deal was then put forward in the Russian lower house of parliament, where all 410 Russian MPs voted in favour of the deal.



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December 10, 2007

Putin backs Medvedev as United Russia party\’s candidate

Putin backs Medvedev as United Russia party’s candidate

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Monday, December 10, 2007

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Dmitry Medvedev on July 27, 2007.
Image: Борис Сухинин.

Today, Dmitry Medvedev was named the candidate for President of Russia by the ruling party United Russia, which holds majority in the newly-elected State Duma, the lower parliament of Russia.

Medvedev, who is the current deputy prime minister of the Russian government and the chairman in the board of directors of Gazprom, was also backed by three other parties and by the current president Vladimir Putin. This means the highly anticipated decision about the supposed successor has been announced.

“I have known him for more than 17 years, I have worked with him very closely all these years, and I fully and completely support this candidacy,” Putin said. “We have the chance to form a stable government after the elections in March 2008. And not just a stable government, but one that will carry out the course that has brought results for all of the past eight years.”

The declaration was unofficial: the formal nomination is expected on December 17, during United Russia’s party conference.

The Russian presidential election is scheduled to be held on March 2, 2008.



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December 2, 2007

Russians vote in parliamentary election

Russians vote in parliamentary election – Wikinews, the free news source

Russians vote in parliamentary election

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

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Voters across Russia are choosing a new parliament in an election nearly certain to be won by President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

Polls opened in Moscow and other western cities Sunday, hours after voting began in frigid weather in Russia’s far east.

More than 100 million people are eligible to vote for legislators in the 450-seat State Duma — the lower house of parliament.

The vote ends Sunday evening at 18:00 UTC, when polls close in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, the farthest west of Russia’s 11 time zones.

Mr. Putin cast his own vote in Moscow Sunday, then encouraged voters to choose candidates they can trust.

After opposition leader Garry Kasparov cast his vote, he accused the ruling party of, in his words, “not just rigging the vote, but raping the whole electoral system.”

The former chess champion was freed Thursday after completing a five-day jail sentence imposed on him and others who took part in an anti-Putin demonstration in Moscow.

In an interview broadcast on German radio Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized the elections, noting the limited number of international observers.

A Russian state-run news agency, Interfax, quotes the elections commission chairman saying 299 foreign observers have been accredited so far, and the number will increase during the day.

Opposition leaders accuse the Kremlin of stifling debate during the campaign leading up to the elections through pressure tactics and media controls.

The constitution prohibits Mr. Putin from running for a third consecutive term as president in March. His name is at the head of United Russia’s candidate list, indicating he might become prime minister in the next government, retaining much of his power.




This article is based on Big Win Expected for Putin as Russians Vote in Parliamentary Election by VOA News which has a copyright policy compatible with our CC-BY 2.5. Specifically “Copyright status of work by the U.S. government

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September 16, 2007

Litvinenko murder suspect running for MP

Litvinenko murder suspect running for MP

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Andrei Lugovoi, one of the main suspects in the murder case of Russian intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko, is to run as a MP in the Russian elections on 2 December. If he is elected, Lugovoi will be immune from prosecution. This is worrying for the British government, who want to arrest Lugovoi.

Lugovoi is to be a candidate for the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. The LDPR currently has 35 of the 446 in the Duma, the lower house in the Russian parliament. The leader of the LDPR, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said, “I head the list (for the December 2 parliamentary elections), the fraction’s leader will be third… Our second will be Andrei Lugovoi – he has suffered, been targeted by British special services.”

Lugovoi is wanted by the British, as he is the main suspect in the Litvinenko case. A critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Litvinenko had taken refuge in Britain and was murdered after he was fed the radioactive substance polonium-210. Lugovoi, a former KGB agent, met Litvinenko on November 1, 2006. The British want Lugovoi extradited but the Russians refuse, denying Lugovoi has had anything to do with murdering Litvinenko.



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June 27, 2005

Russia probing Jewish law as \”incitement\”

Russia probing Jewish law as “incitement”

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Monday, June 27, 2005

The Moscow District Prosecutor’s Office has dropped its investigation of Russian Jewry on charges of racist incitement and distribution of anti-Russian material for having published an abridged translation of a 16th Century Hebrew text on Jewish law. Jewish leaders were summoned for questioning about the Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh as the apparent first step of a probe into whether all Jewish organizations should be banned in Russia.

Disbanding all Jewish organizations in Russia was requested in a January 13, 2005 letter to the State Prosecutor General signed by 20 members of the Russian State Duma. The letter was expanded into a petition signed by 500 well-known public figures, church officials and army generals in March. After being published in a St. Petersburg newspaper, the petition gleaned 5,000 signatures. It called the Jewish religion anti-Christian and inhumane, and even practicing ritual murder of Christian children [1] Excerpts in English].

Although the Russian Foreign Ministry had condemned the letter, the St. Petersburg District Prosecutor’s Office declared that it was not anti-Semitic and declined to file incitement charges against Rus Pravoslavnaya, the newspaper that published it.

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