Russia Quickly Cancels Wikipedia Ban


The homepage of the Russian version of Wikipedia

RUSSIA has cancelled a ban on the Russian-language version of Wikipedia after it caused controversy among internet users in the country.

The Russian communications watchdog told internet providers late on Monday to block access to the site in Russian after a court ruled an entry on hashish contained banned information.

Users across the country then reported they were not able to access the site.

Wikimedia RU, the group that supports the local version of Wikipedia, had earlier decided not to remove the article on charas, a cannabis resin, after a warning from the communications watchdog Roskomnadzor.

The agency removed Wikipedia from its list of banned websites early on Tuesday, saying the entry had been changed and therefore complied with the court decision.

However, users noted that the entry itself did not seem to have been edited, just its title modified.

Recent laws passed in Russia allow the authorities to block any website that contains information about drug use, suicide and anything that can be interpreted as inciting racial hatred.

Critics say the legislation restricts internet freedoms and can lead to more general content being banned.

The government argues it is largely aimed at protecting children from indecent material.

The Federal Communications Agency has been criticised for what has been described as attempts to stifle dissent.

The agency has banned opposition websites and the blogs of popular opposition leaders like Alexei Navalny.