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Russians Are Racing to Download Wikipedia Before It Gets Banned

Russian Wikipedia logo

One person joked he'd know exactly what to say if questioned by authorities: "I can explain everything! Literally everything!"

Credit: Wikipedia

Concerned by reports that Russia's censorship office had threatened to block Russian Wikipedia, a 32-year-old made a plan to download a local copy of Russian-language Wikipedia to keep with him in eastern Russia. He considers Wikipedia more trustworthy than the Russian media.

Other Russian citizens appear to be making a local copy of Wikipedia. Data suggests that after the threats of censorship, Russians started torrenting Wikipedia in droves. Currently, Russia is the country with the most Wikipedia downloads — by a landslide. Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it rarely broke the top 10. After the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, it has kept a solid hold on first place.

The 29-gigabyte file that contains a downloadable Russian-language Wikipedia was downloaded a whopping 105,889 times during the first half of March, which is a more than 4,000 percent increase compared with the first half of January. Stephane Coillet-Matillon of Kiwix, the organization that facilitates the downloads, said Russian downloads now constitute 42 percent of all traffic on Kiwix servers, up from just 2 percent in 2021.

From Slate
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