Russia u-turn: Unbans Wikipedia just hours after banning it

Clara Guibourg
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Russian Wikipedia is back online (Source: Wikipedia)

All of Wikipedia was briefly banned in Russia yesterday, ostensibly over the content on a cannabis page, but less than 24 hours after imposing the ban, Russian authorities did a u-turn.

Most internet users in Russia never even had time to notice the ban, which had been widely criticised as yet another act of censorship against an open internet, before it was lifted again today.

Internet activists concerned over the authorities’ increasing stranglehold over internet freedom in the country flagged up the ban, which was reported internationally.

The cause of the kerfuffle was officially a Wikipedia page all but instructing its readers on how to make charas, a kind of cannabis.

Russian internet watchdog Roskomnadzor ordered its removal, and as the online encyclopedia refused to comply, the entire site was blocked - though only, it now seems, for a few hours.

Exactly what prompted this quick turnaround from the Roskomnadzor is unclear, as Wikipedia claims that the page in question remains unchanged.

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