Russia is on a spree to change how its citizens use the internet. First, it passed a bill to create its own sovereign internet. Next, a bill was passed that will make it mandatory for smartphones to come with in-built Russian software. Now, the country has decided to make its own Wikipedia clone to replace Wikipedia all over the nation.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Russian Language Council held in November. Vladimir Putin, Russian-president also attended the meeting. As reported by RIA, a Russian news agency, “Regarding Wikipedia […] It’s better to replace it with the Great Russian Encyclopaedia in electronic form.”
The website that will replace Wikipedia is bigenc.ru and the government has pledged to allocate 2 billion rubles or roughly $31 million for the project.
Bigenc.ru is managed by the Great Russian Encyclopedia publishing house. The publisher has authored a 36-volume universal Russian encyclopedia dubbed Great Russian Encyclopedia. The encyclopedia was sold between 2004 and 20017 and 36 volumes of it were digitized and ported to bigenc.ru.
According to Sergey Kravets from the Great Russian Encyclopedia, the project is set to be finished by the spring of 2022.
Other countries like India, Brazil, South Africa, and China have also shown interest in the project as the Russian Wikipedia clone will also be translated into other languages, reports TASS.
The reason why Russia wants to replace Wikipedia is the fact that the Russian version of Wikipedia holds incorrect and unverified information. In August, Russia’s deputy minister for digital development, mass media, and telecommunications advised students and journalists to refrain from citing Wikipedia because the information, there, isn’t verified.