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A Page on Hashish Prompts Russia to Block, Then Unblock Wikipedia

Russia continues its weird online war on drugs.

by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai
Aug 25 2015, 11:41am

Image: GongTo/Shutterstock

After briefly banning Reddit due to a thread on mushrooms two weeks ago, Russian censors have continued their peculiar war on drugs by blocking the local Wikipedia site on Monday night due to a page on hashish, which a court ruled was illegal.

The block on the Russian version of the popular online encyclopedia, however, was lifted a few hours later on Tuesday morning.

This brief and bizarre block originated with a court order from Cherny Yar, a small town of 8,000 people. The local court ordered the ban of a single Wikipedia page about charas, an Indian form of cannabis, ruling that the page contained illegal information. (Russia has several laws banning online content related to promoting drugs.)

But given that Wikipedia now uses HTTPS web encryption, it was impossible for Russian internet providers to block one page without blocking the whole site.

Stanislav Kozlovskiy, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation in Russia, confirmed that the site was unblocked with a tweet linking to a notice sent by the Russian internet regulator, Roskomnadzor. The agency itself confirmed the news in a press release, noting that the infringing page had been edited, although it's unclear what was edited exactly.

"We are not going to stop using the HTTPS protocol to make it easier for Roskomnadzor to censor Wikipedia," Kozlovskiy told the Washington Post on Monday.

It seems that this time, Wikipedia won the battle.