It is hugely ironic that the organisation which has been making history in its own image by making people disappear is now about to suffer at the hands of a Russian dictator with the same business model.
On March 1, after a week of horror in Ukraine, reports came out that Russia's censorship office had threatened to block Russian Wikipedia.
A 32-year-old who asked to be called Alexander soon made a plan to download a local copy of Russian-language Wikipedia to keep with him in eastern Russia. "I did it just in case," he told me over Instagram Messenger before sharing that he and his wife are "working on moving to another country" with their two dogs, Prime and Shaggy. Instagram has been blocked in Russia, but many continue to access it using virtual private networks.
On Monday, the Russian government officially declared Facebook and Instagram "extremist organisations."
But apparently he is not the only one, Russians have started torrenting Wikipedia in droves and Russia is the country with the most Wikipedia downloads.
A downloadable Russian-language Wikipedia was downloaded a whopping 105,889 times during the first half of March, which is a more than 4,000 percent increase compared with the first half of January.
According to Stephane Coillet-Matillon, who leads Kiwix, the organization that facilitates these downloads, Russian downloads now constitute 42 per cent of all traffic on Kiwix servers, up from just two per cent in 2021.
"We had something similar back in 2017 when Turkey blocked Wikipedia," he said, "but this one is just another dimension."
"Wikipedia routinely makes a dump of its databases available publicly, which Kiwix compresses into an archive so it can be more easily shared," adds Slate. "The entirety of English Wikipedia, from 'List of Informally Named Dinosaurs' to 'Floor' to 'Skunks as Pets' and everything in between, is 87 GB with pictures or 47 GB without. Russian-language Wikipedia is even smaller, continuing 1.8 million articles compared with English Wikipedia's 6.4 million."