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Liquidation of Wikimedia RU

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By Russian Wikinews editors
This article was originally published in the Russian Wikinews on December 20, 2023. We thank Ymblanter for help with the translation.

On December 19, 2023, the director of Wikimedia Russia, Stanislav Kozlovsky, made several important statements about his forced resignation from his job at the Moscow State University and the dissolution of the WMF's Russian branch.


Kozlovsky had been working at the Moscow State University for 25 years, where he most recently served as a Candidate of Psychological Sciences and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Psychology. In December 2023, he was at the University's branch in Baku, Azerbaijan, giving lectures on psychophysiology to local students, when he was "unexpectedly" forced to interrupt the course, having been called to Moscow by order of the vice-rector of the MSU due to "operational necessity".


On December 18, 2023, during a meeting at the dean's office of the MSU's Faculty of Psychology, Kozlovsky was told that there existed "reliable information" about his inclusion in the list of suspected foreign agents by Russian authorities [since lists of foreign agents are updated on Fridays, his inclusion on the list was expected to be made public on December 22, 2023]. According to Kozlovsky himself, he was offered two options by the MSU's board: either be fired for "absenteeism", or to resign "at his own request"; having been denied further time to think about his future at the university, he ultimately "chose the latter [option]". Later on the same day, Kozlovsky removed information about his place of work from his Wikipedia user page.

However, TASS later reported about a press statement by the MSU's Faculty of Psychology itself regarding the events associated with Kozlovsky’s dismissal, in which the office denied his version of the facts, while also claiming that neither the university, nor the faculty knew anything "on the inclusion of S. A. Kozlovsky in any lists".

Meeting of Wikimedia RU and the decision to dissolve the organization

On the evening of December 18, Kozlovsky called an emergency meeting of Wikimedia RU's NP members, where he reported his forced resignation from his job at the MSU. As he later said, in an interview with RBK, the Wikimedia RU administrators agreed that "it [was] impossible to work in such conditions" and "decided to dissolve the organization", although the "closing formalities [would] take several months". After this was reported on the Russian Wikipedia's Village Pump, users expressed understanding and many found some words in support.

Further comments

At 07:38, December 19, 2023 (UTC), Kozlovsky posted on the Russian Wikipedia news forum with a story about the events described. He also gave several interviews to Russian media, including TASS, RBC, RTVI, and Vzglyad. He said that Wikimedia RU has never been responsible for Wikipedia. Instead, it supported Wikiprojects in Russian (those, along with Wikipedia, include Wiktionary, Wikinews, Wikisource, and others). It prepared textbooks and offered online courses on editing these projects, organized conferences, seminars, and lectures, and worked with copyright holders to facilitate transfer of works to Wikipedia under free licenses. According to him, in recent years, "everyone has become afraid" of dealing with Wikimedia RU, although there has been no obvious pressure on the organization until now.

In an interview with another publication, the business newspaper Vzglyad, Stanislav said that he does not intend to leave Russia. "I do not have anywhere to go."

Kozlovsky was also not sure about what exactly was the reason for the possible inclusion of foreign agents on the list. Since he gave lectures in Baku, Kozlovsky joked: "Maybe they want to recognize me as a foreign agent of Azerbaijan? I don't know".

In addition, Kozlovsky recalled that there has been discussion about blocking Wikipedia for more than ten years, but it has never happened: "It [the blocking] could happen any day, but it doesn’t happen. I hope this never happens."


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So what does it mean in practice for Russian Wikipedia? What did Russian Wikimedia Chapter do? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 04:17, 25 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Yes I am wondering about this as well. Will ru.wikipedia be closed? Or just the organization? I am sure ru.wikipedia didn't need any organization to run perfectly. ✠ SunDawn ✠ (contact) 02:30, 26 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Russian Wikipedia will continue since it is hosted on international servers. I assume there will be reduced support for local initiatives like edit-a-thons, but it would be good to know what exactly ru wiki was doing that now will be abandoned. What is the damage - and what can WMF do to mitigate this? Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 02:59, 26 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
You can see a number of reports about "what exactly ru wiki was doing" here in English (smaller number) and in Russian (much bigger number). For reading Russian reports, you may use an automatic translator. If you're interested in reports about Russian Wikipedia, go to n:ru:Русская_Википедия. If you're interested in reports about Wikimedia Russia, go to n:ru:Викимедиа_РУ. -- ssr (talk) 16:00, 26 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
In fact, nobody cares about all these things for decades =))) You say: "what can WMF do to mitigate this?". I answer: WMF don't care about this, so cannot do anything.-- ssr (talk) 16:17, 28 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]


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