Senior Wikipedia editor arrested in Belarus
Senior Wikipedia editor arrested in Belarus


The General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of Belarus, GUBOPiK, has arrested prominent Wikipedia editor and businessman, 56-year-old Mark Bernstein, according to Belarusian newspaper Zerkalo.

The arrest comes after Bernstein's personal details were shared via the public channel GOBUPiK within Telegram. Bernstein is one of the 50 best Russian Wikipedia editors.

Bernstein's information - including social media, Wikipedia interactions, and workplace interactions - is shared through the messaging app on the GUBOPik channel.

A video of Bernstein's arrest was also released, along with his photo and personal information. Bernstein is accused of spreading false anti-Russian information.

Zerkalo also mentioned that Bernstein was accused of editing a Wikipedia article about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, none of the messages on the Telegram channel clearly specify what charges may have been officially brought against Bernstein.

According to Bernstein's Wikimedia username activity log, he has made more than 200,000 edits to articles in the Russian version of the World Encyclopedia. His account is currently described as indefinitely suspended.

Also, on the Russian Global Encyclopedia channel via Telegram, users from Belarus and Russia are advised to hide personal information and edit only war-related articles from other accounts.

Wikipedia is still targeted

Belarus provided logistical support during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was a starting point for troops heading to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

Ukraine said Belarus might consider joining forces in the invasion and said Russia launched a mock attack to implicate the country.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law on fake news. The law punishes anyone who spreads false news with up to 15 years in prison.

The country's technology and communications agency, Roskomnadzor, has also threatened to ban the global encyclopedia for having a Russian-language page about the current invasion of Ukraine. At the time, the Wikimedia Foundation released a statement supporting the editors of Wikipedia in Russia.

A spokesperson for the Wikimedia Foundation said the group is following developments closely. "The foundation's trust, security and human rights teams are monitoring the current crisis in Ukraine," he added. We are in close contact with communities in the area to ensure their safety and meet their needs.

Hana Lyubakova, whose Twitter account revealed her to be a Belarusian journalist and non-resident scholar at the Atlantic Council, tweeted that Bernstein is known around the world and said Wikipedia has a problem with this system that poses a threat.


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