The Main Directorate for Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption of Belarus (GUBOPiK) has arrested prominent Wikipedia editor Mark Bernstein, according to the Belarusian publication. zerkalo. The arrest comes after Bernstein’s personal information was shared on GOBUPiK’s public Telegram channel. Bernstein is one of the top 50 Russian Wikipedia editors.
the edge was able to confirm that Bernstein’s information, including his social networks, his Wikipedia username and his place of work, had been shared on the GUBOPik channel in the messaging app. A video of Bernstein’s arrest was also released along with her photo and personal details. In the photo itself, Bernstein is accused of “distributing false anti-Russian information.” Since then, the channel has been made private.
zerkalo it also reports that Berstein had been accused of editing Wikipedia articles on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, none of the information on the Telegram channels clearly specifies what, if anything, Bernstein has been officially charged with. in a activity log From Bernstein’s supposed Wikimedia username, you can see that he has made over 200,000 edits to Russian Wikipedia articles. Currently, his account is described as “locked indefinitely.”
On the Russian Wikipedia channel on Telegram, users from Belarus and Russia were also advised to hide their personal data and only edit articles about the war from other accounts.
Belarus has provided logistical support during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, serving as a staging area for units moving toward the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. Earlier today, Ukraine said that Belarus could be planning to join the invasion with his own army, claiming that Russia had staged a “false flag” attack to provoke the country’s involvement.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law punishing people who spread “fake news.” with up to 15 years in prison. Roskomnadzor, the country’s communications and technology agency, also threatened to block Wikipedia on the page in Russian on the current invasion of Ukraine. At the time, the Wikimedia Foundation issued a statement in support of the Russian Wikipedia editors.
Reached for comment, a Wikimedia Foundation spokesman said the group was watching the situation closely. “The Foundation’s Trust & Security and Human Rights teams have been monitoring the ongoing crisis in Ukraine,” the spokesperson said, “and are in close contact with our communities in the region to ensure their safety and respond to their needs.”
Correction, March 11, 2022, 18:20: An earlier version of this article stated that Mark Bernstein had edited over 200,000 articles on Russian Wikipedia. This has been corrected to over 200,000 edits. We are sorry for the mistake.