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Russian Wikipedia

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Favicon of Wikipedia Russian Wikipedia
Main Page of the Russian Wikipedia in April 2013
Type of site
Internet encyclopedia project
Available inRussian
OwnerWikimedia Foundation
Launched20 May 2001; 23 years ago (2001-05-20)
Content license
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 4.0

The Russian Wikipedia (Russian: Русская Википедия, romanizedRusskaya Vikipediya) is the Russian-language edition of Wikipedia. As of June 2024, it has 1,984,523 articles. It was started on 11 May 2001.[1] In October 2015, it became the sixth-largest Wikipedia by the number of articles. It has the sixth-largest number of edits (138 million). In June 2020, it was the world's sixth most visited language Wikipedia (after the English, the Japanese, the Spanish, the German and the French Wikipedias).[2]

It is the largest Wikipedia written in any Slavic language, surpassing its nearest rival, the Polish Wikipedia, by 20% in terms of the number of articles and fivefold by the parameter of depth.[3] In addition, the Russian Wikipedia is the largest Wikipedia written in Cyrillic[4] or in a script other than the Latin script. In April 2016, the project had 3,377 active editors who made at least five contributions in that month, ranking third behind the English and Spanish versions. As of 2023, it is the most popular Wikipedia in many post-Soviet states, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, and the second most popular in others.[citation needed]

Since the early 2010s, the Russian Wikipedia and its contributing editors have experienced numerous and increasing threats of nationwide blocks and country-wide enforcement of blacklisting by the Russian government, as well as several attempts at Internet censorship, propaganda, and disinformation,[5][6][7][8][9] more recently during the 2014 Russo-Ukrainian war in the Donbas region[10][11][12][13] and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[14]


Difficult issues are resolved through the Arbitration Committee, which handles content disputes, blocks users or prohibits certain users from editing articles on certain topics.[15]

Administrators (currently 68) are elected through a vote; a minimum quorum of 30 voters and 66% of support votes are required if the request is to be considered successful. Administrators who have become inactive (i.e. have not used administrative tools, such as "delete" or "block" buttons, at least 25 times in six months) may lose their privileges by an Arbitration Committee decision.[16]


As of 1 June 2012, some of the biggest categories (which contain more than 5,000 articles) in the Russian Wikipedia are:[17]

  • 176,411 biographical articles. Although the Western name order (given name(s) followed by family name) is generally used in Russian, the Russian Wikipedia uses lexical order (last name, comma, given name(s) and also the patronymic for most people from ex-Soviet countries) for all articles on non-fictional persons. This order has been traditionally used in major Russian-language encyclopedias, like the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.
  • 144,322 human settlements articles.
  • 28,187 river articles
  • 19,302 film articles
  • 16,925 animal articles
  • 16,517 scientific articles
  • 16,133 surname articles
  • 13,936 footballers' articles
  • 11,247 Musicians' articles
  • 10,755 Writers' articles
  • 9,243 album articles
  • 9,237 articles on recipients of the Order of Lenin
  • 7,307 Company's articles
  • 6,734 plant articles
  • 6,574 street articles
  • 6,265 NGC astronomical articles
  • 6,157 actors articles
  • 5,719 artist articles
  • 5,580 music group articles
  • 5,292 Hero of the Soviet Union articles

10,340 articles contain material from the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary. More than 47,000 articles were translated from the English Wikipedia.


In addition to common Wikipedia namespaces, the Russian Wikipedia has three custom ones: "Incubator" (# 102–103) – which is used as a training camp for new users and their first articles, "Project" (# 104–105) – for Wikipedia projects and "Arbitration" (# 106–107) – for arbitration requests.

User pages[edit]

On user pages, users are able to see their outreach, the cumulative view count of pages they have edited.


In 2015, Roman Leibov [ru; et], a professor at the University of Tartu, in an interview opined that articles related to humanities in the Russian Wikipedia are of considerably inferior quality compared to English Wikipedia, and some articles even deteriorate with time. He suggested that this effect is due to overzealous policing of intellectual property rights by the community and bemoaned poor editing skills of some Wikipedians.[18]

In 2022, the San Francisco Examiner praised the Russian Wikipedia for "filling the information vacuum" while "independent media abandon Russia or are censored" during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[19] For the safety of Wikipedians, all editors' names in the page about the Russian invasion in Ukraine are routinely erased.[20]


Number of Russian Wikipedia articles in 2005–2020
Russian Wikipedia logo on 11 May 2013
Russian Wikipedia logo on 1 October 2018
  • The main page was created on 7 November 2002.[21]
  • On 30 December 2004, the 10,000th article was created.
  • On 23 December 2005, the 50,000th article was created.
  • On 16 August 2006, the 100,000th article was created.
  • On 29 November 2006, the Russian Wikipedia received the National Runet Award in the Educational section.
  • On 10 March 2007, the 150,000th article was created.
  • On 4 September 2007, the 200,000th article was created.
  • On 27 November 2007, the Russian Wikipedia received the National Runet Award in the Educational section.
  • On 17 March 2008, the 250,000th article was created.
  • On 18 July 2008, the 300,000th article was created.
  • On 22 January 2009, the 350,000th article was created.
  • On 16 June 2009, the 400,000th article was created.
  • On 25 November 2009, the Russian Wikipedia received the National Runet Award in the Science and Education section.[22]
  • On 25 February 2010, the 500,000th article was created.
  • On 8 October 2010, the 600,000th article was created.
  • On 12 April 2011, the 700,000th article was created.
  • On 10 December 2011, the 800,000th article was created.
  • On 8 September 2012, the 900,000th article was created.[23]
  • On 11 May 2013, the 1,000,000th article was created.[23]
  • On 27 March 2014, the 1,100,000th article was created.
  • On 19 March 2015, the 1,200,000th article was created.
  • On 29 March 2016, the 1,300,000th article was created.
  • On 14 June 2017, the 1,400,000th article was created.
  • On 1 October 2018, the 1,500,000th article was created.[24]
  • On 26 February 2020, the 1,600,000th article was created.
  • On 17 February 2021, the 1,700,000th article was created.
  • On 4 March 2022, the 1,800,000th article was created.


Early years[edit]

Celebration logo for 500.000 articles plays a pun as "half a lemon" means "half a million" in Russian slang.
Awards of Russian Wikipedia. "Golden site" prize (2007) and four Runet Prizes (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010)

The Russian Wikipedia was created on 20 May 2001 in the first wave of non-English Wikipedias, along with editions in Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, German, Esperanto, French, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.

  The countries in which the Russian Wikipedia is the most popular language version of Wikipedia are shown in light blue.
The countries where Russian Wikipedia is the most popular in October 2022, together with a sorting of the countries on how stable is the lead of Russian Wikipedia there
Origin of viewers over time on the Russian Wikipedia

The first edit of the Russian Wikipedia was on 24 May 2001, and consisted of the line "Россия – великая страна" ("Russia is a great nation"). The following edit changed it to the joke: "Россия – родина слонов (ушастых, повышенной проходимости – см. мамонт)" ("Russia is the motherland of elephants (big-eared, improved cross-country capability, see Mammoth.")[25]

For a long time development was slow (especially after some participants left for WikiZnanie), but in the 12-month period between February 2005 and February 2006 it surpassed nine editions in other languages – the Catalan, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Finnish, Norwegian, Chinese, Esperanto, and Danish Wikipedias. In 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010[26] the Russian Wikipedia won the "Science and education" category of the "Runet Prize" (Russian: Премия Рунета) award, supervised by the Russian government agency FAPMC.[27]

Troubles with the Russian government[edit]

Russian Wikipedia Main Page during 10 July 2012 blackout. "Imagine a world without free knowledge" written.

On 10 July 2012, Russian Wikipedia closed access to its content for 24 hours in protest against proposed amendments to Russia's Information Act (Bill No. 89417-6) regulating the accessibility of Internet-based information to children. Among other things, the bill stipulates the creation and country-wide enforcement of blacklists, which would block access to forbidden sites. Several aspects of this amendment drew criticism from various civil rights activists and Internet providers.[citation needed]

Supporters of the amendment stated that it is aimed only at widely prohibited content such as child pornography and similar information, but the Russian Wikimedia chapter has declared that conditions for determining the content falling under this law will create a thing like the "great Chinese firewall". They further claimed that existing Russian legal practice demonstrates a high likelihood of a worst-case scenario, resulting in a country-wide ban of Wikipedia.[5][6] The second and the third readings of the law were held in the State Duma on 11 July; no essential corrections were introduced. The law will come into force after three readings in the State Duma, one reading in the Federation Council and presidential approval.[7]

On 10 July, Nikolai Nikiforov, Russian Minister for Telecommunications and Mass Media announced in his Twitter account, that the organization of the List of the prohibited websites (that was sited on the Law Project No. 89417-6) will be suspended until 1 November 2012.[7][28] On the same day Yelena Mizulina, a Duma deputy and the head of the subcommittee which sponsored the law, said that the blackout is an attempt to blackmail the Duma and was sponsored by the "pedophile lobby".[29]

Also, since 2012, Russian foreign agent law resulted in reduced funding available for the Russian Wikipedia and its volunteers, who no longer can receive financial aid from abroad, including their share of funds raised through global Wikipedia fundraisers.[30]

On 5 April 2013, it was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media that Wikipedia had been blacklisted over the article "Курение каннабиса" ("Cannabis smoking") on Russian Wikipedia.[31][9] On 31 March 2013, The New York Times reported that Russia was 'Selectively Blocking [the] Internet',[8] though Wikipedia itself was not blocked at that time.

Articles on Russian Wikipedia, and also on other Wikipedia versions, concerning the shoot down of flight MH17 and the 2014 Russo-Ukrainian war in the Donbas region have been targeted by Internet propaganda outlets associated with the Putin-led Russian government.[10][11][12][13] Some of the edits were spotted by a Twitter bot which monitors Wikipedia edits made from Russian government IP addresses.[11][12][13]

The entire Russian Wikipedia was blocked in the Russian Federation for a few hours in August 2015 due to the contents of the article on charas.[32]

In November 2019, Russian president Vladimir Putin called for a government-run alternative to Wikipedia. The Guardian reported state funds had already been allocated according to official documents published the previous September. The new electronic alternative was intended to be based on the Great Russian Encyclopedia.[33] According to the London Times, the proposal had been abandoned by mid-May 2020,[34] however, according to Great Russian Encyclopedia employee Yekaterina Chukovskaya, only the working group was disbanded and work on the project as a whole will continue.[35]

In December 2023, the Russian Wikimedia chapter voted unanimously to dissolve itself after its director had been warned by authorities that he would be designated a "foreign agent". He also stated that he was forced to resign from the university where he worked.[36]

2022 fork[edit]

In June 2022, Runiversalis, a pro-government partial fork of the Russian Wikipedia, was launched. The site launched with only 9000 articles, a tiny subset of the 1.85 million articles on the Russian Wikipedia, with many articles being taken unmodified from the Russian Wikipedia.[37]

Censorship and disinformation during the Russo-Ukrainian War[edit]

In February and March 2022, in the first week following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and breakout of the Russo-Ukrainian War, Russian Wikipedia editors warned their readers and fellow editors of several, reiterated attempts by the Putin-led Russian government of political censorship, Internet propaganda, disinformation attacks, and disruptive editing towards an article listing of Russian military casualties as well as Ukrainian civilians and children due to the ongoing war.[14] The Wikipedia was generally considered under threat in Russia.[38]

On 1 March 2022, Roskomnadzor, the Russian agency for monitoring and censoring mass media, wrote to the Wikimedia Foundation requesting for removal of the article "Вторжение России на Украину (с 2022)" ("2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine").[39]

On 11 March 2022, Belarusian political police GUBOPiK arrested and detained Mark Bernstein from Minsk, an editor of the Russian Wikipedia, who was contributing to the Wikipedia article about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. GUBOPiK accused him of the "spread of anti-Russian materials" and of violating Russian "fake news" laws.[40][41][42]

On 1 November 2022, a Russian court levied a fine 2 million rubles on the Wikimedia Foundation, for declining to delete two articles on Russian Wikipedia.[43] On 28 February 2023, the Wikimedia Foundation was fined another 2 million rubles after accusations of refusal to delete what the court called "misinformation".[44] On 14 April 2023, a similar fine of 2 million rubles was imposed over an article on the Russian occupation of Zaporizhzhia Oblast.[45]

Calls to block access to Wikipedia have been made by various Russian political actors since the beginning of the invasion. In particular, Valery Fadeyev and Igor Ashmanov, members of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, called on 4 April 2023 to block the access because of "systemic bias".[46]

2023 fork[edit]

On 24 May 2023, long-time Wikimedia Russia director Vladimir V. Medeyko announced "Рувики" ("Ruviki"), a fork of Russian Wikipedia.[47]

Impact of policies on content[edit]

In 2021, historian Maksym Potapenko and Doctor of Political Science Mateusz Kamionka conducted a study on editing the texts of articles about Crimea since its annexation by Russia. The researchers noted the difference in terminology between the Wikipedia articles in Russian, where in 2021 the military operation of the Russian Federation in Crimea in early 2014 was called "the annexation of Crimea to Russia", and in Ukrainian, where the events were described as "annexation". In articles on the history of Crimea in Ukrainian, it is described as an ethno-historical region of Europe, Russian-language articles describe it as the imperial and Soviet heritage of Russia.

According to the researchers, this is due to the difference in the political media narrative of both countries, as the Wikipedia editions preferred sources in their own language, as well as the difference in Ukrainian and Russian historiography, which has been growing since 2014. The researchers note that the content of the articles in the Ukrainian and Russian versions is significantly influenced by the current political situation and the war between Russia and Ukraine. "The use of history as a means to substantiate and legitimize territorial claims" is increasing, and the use of history as a tool in Wikipedia undermines the principle of neutrality, one of Wikipedia's basic principles. As researchers noted in 2021. After 2014, articles on the history of Crimea in Ukrainian Wikipedia became more independent and original in terms of sources, while articles in Russian, due to a greater number of views, had a greater impact on the audience.[48]


  1. ^ Richey, Jason (11 May 2001). "[Wikipedia-l] new language wikis". Archived from the original on 6 January 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  2. ^ Monthly overview, Wikimedia Statistics, 11 July 2020.
  3. ^ All Wikipedias ordered by number of articles
  4. ^ List of Wikipedias given in decadic logarithm
  5. ^ a b "Забастовка Википедии на русском языке". 10 July 2012. Archived from the original on 11 July 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Russian Wikipedia goes dark in protest at censor law". BBC News. 10 July 2012. Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  7. ^ a b c "Wikipedia down in protest in Russia". Euronews. 10 July 2012. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  8. ^ a b Andrew E. Kramer (31 March 2013). "Russians Selectively Blocking Internet". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 4 April 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Russian media regulator confirms Wikipedia blacklisted". Russia Beyond the Headlines. 5 April 2013. Archived from the original on 7 October 2021. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  10. ^ a b Stukal, Denis; Sanovich, Sergey; Bonneau, Richard; Tucker, Joshua A. (February 2022). "Why Botter: How Pro-Government Bots Fight Opposition in Russia" (PDF). American Political Science Review. 116 (1). Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association: 843–857. doi:10.1017/S0003055421001507. ISSN 1537-5943. LCCN 08009025. OCLC 805068983. S2CID 247038589. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  11. ^ a b c Sorokanich, Robert (18 July 2014). "A Tweetbot Caught the Russian Gov't Editing Flight MH17 Wikipedia Info". Archived from the original on 15 November 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Dewey, Caitlin (21 July 2014). "Flight MH17's Wikipedia page edited by Russian government; An IP address associated with Vladimir Putin's office has made multiple edits to the Wikipedia page for the MH17 flight page". Toronto Star. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  13. ^ a b c Zeveleva, Olga (6 August 2014). "Knowledge is power: why is the Russian government editing Wikipedia?". The Calvert Journal. Archived from the original on 18 November 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  14. ^ a b Cole, Samantha (1 March 2022). "Russia Threatens to Block Wikipedia for Stating Facts About Its War Casualties, Editors Say". VICE. New York City: VICE Media. ISSN 1077-6788. OCLC 30856250. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  15. ^ (in Russian) ru:WP:Arbitration Committee
  16. ^ (in Russian) ru:WP:Administrators (rus)
  17. ^ Most linked categories
  18. ^ Усыскин, Лев (5 June 2015). "Википедия – знакомая и неизвестная". Гефтер. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  19. ^ Elder, Jeff (8 March 2022). "Russia's Wikipedia volunteers risk their freedom for truth". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 16 July 2022.
  20. ^ "Вторжение России на Украину (с 2022): история изменений". Russian Wikipedia (in Russian). 19 January 2023. Archived from the original on 19 January 2023. Retrieved 25 February 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  21. ^ "Базовая статья". Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  22. ^ Номинанты Премии Рунета — 2009. Интернет-проекты Archived 15 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine (in Russian)
  23. ^ a b "Русский раздел Википедии преодолел рубеж в 1 миллион статей". cit.ua. Сервисные интернет технологии. 11 May 2013. Archived from the original on 6 July 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  24. ^ "Русскоязычный раздел Википедии преодолел рубеж в 1 500 000 статей". RosKomSvoboda (in Russian). 1 October 2018. Archived from the original on 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  25. ^ В русской Википедии появилась 200-тысячная статья (in Russian). Lenta.ru. 4 September 2007. Archived from the original on 8 February 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  26. ^ "Номинанты и Лауреаты 2010 года". Премии Рунета. Archived from the original on 27 August 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  27. ^ Главная премия российского интернета стала государственной (in Russian). Lenta.ru. 29 August 2005. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
  28. ^ "Николай Никифоров". Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  29. ^ Доброхотов, Роман; Никита Лашук; Маргарита Белодедова (10 July 2012). "Republic.ru" Елена Мизулина: Википедия – прикрытие педофильского лобби (in Russian). Slon.ru. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  30. ^ "Knowledge is power: Why is the Russian government editing Wikipedia?". Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Russia May Block Wikipedia Access Over Narcotics Article". RIA Novosti. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  32. ^ Russia Cancels Short-Lived Wikipedia Ban Archived 28 August 2015 at the Wayback Machine, The Associated Press
  33. ^ "Vladimir Putin Calls for 'Reliable' Russian Version of Wikipedia". The Guardian. AFP. 5 November 2019. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  34. ^ Bennetts, Marc (15 May 2020). "Kremlin drops plans for state-approved Wikipedia". The Times. Retrieved 15 May 2020. (subscription required)
  35. ^ "Власти России отказались от идеи создавать аналог "Википедии" за два миллиарда рублей" (in Russian). Meduza. 13 May 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  36. ^ Times, The Moscow (19 December 2023). "Wikimedia Russia Shuts Down Amid 'Foreign Agent' Threats". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  37. ^ Fasseur, Barbara. "Runiversalis, un Wikipédia russe, approuvé par l'État". ActuaLitté.com (in French). Retrieved 25 August 2022.
  38. ^ Elder, Jeff (8 March 2022). "Russia's Wikipedia volunteers risk their freedom for truth". San Francisco Chronicle.
  39. ^ "Moscow threatens to block Russian-language Wikipedia over invasion article". National Post. 1 March 2022. Archived from the original on 1 March 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  40. ^ "В Беларуси задержали Марка Бернштейна — активиста и популяризатора интернет-энциклопедии Wikipedia.org". Zerkalo.io (in Russian). 11 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  41. ^ "Wiki-активист Марк Бернштейн задержан за "антироссийские материалы"". reform.by (in Russian). 11 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  42. ^ "Prominent editor of Russian Wikipedia pages detained in Belarus". 12 March 2022.
  43. ^ "Russia fines Wikimedia Foundation over Ukraine war entries". Reuters. 1 November 2022. Retrieved 1 November 2022.
  44. ^ "Russian court fines Wikipedia over military 'misinformation'". Reuters. 1 March 2023. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  45. ^ Bajak, Frank (14 April 2023). "Russian court fines Wikipedia for article about Ukraine war". Associated Press. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  46. ^ ""Это идеологический, политизированный продукт". Глава СПЧ призвал заблокировать "Википедию" в России". TV Rain (in Russian). 4 April 2023.
  47. ^ "Запуск проекта Рувики" [Ruviki project launches]. Habr. 24 May 2023.
  48. ^ Potapenko, Maxim; Kamionka, Mateusz (30 January 2023), "Wiki-History of Crimea: Ukrainian and Russian Versions", Wiki-History of Crimea: Ukrainian and Russian Versions, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, pp. 91–104, doi:10.1515/9783111000596-006/html?lang=en, ISBN 978-3-11-100059-6, retrieved 28 May 2024

External links[edit]