Russia Works on Creating its Own Wikipedia for $26.7mn

Although Wikipedia in Russian began in 2001 and is reportedly the most-visited form of the index after the English version, the country appears to be making a move for its own free online encyclopedia, Newsweek reported last week.

In September, it was announced that Russia’s Wikipedia alternative had $26.7 million budgeted for its creation. Great Russian Encyclopedia executive editor Sergei Kravets told Newsweek that the project is already in the works.

According to Kravets, the new website began development in July and will take approximately 33 months, finishing by spring or summer of 2022.

Although the project has yet to receive a name, Kravets did reveal that he wants a name reflective of the prestige of the Great Russian Encyclopedia.

“As many as 35 percent of students are aware of its existence, they consider it to be reliable but a bit outdated. As for professors, nearly 100 percent are acquainted with the encyclopedia and believe it to be fundamental and reliable. If we create something new, we need to maintain continuity, credibility, depth and reliability, but at the same time, we should eliminate its antiquatedness and reach out to new areas,” Kravets said.

Before a recent call from President Vladimir Putin for a Wikipedia alternative, Newsweek reported that the development of such a Russian database was first proposed by lawmaker Yelena Yampolskaya back in 2016. She suggested that such a database is necessary to give Russians resources other than Wikipedia.

Despite reported accuracy issues, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov suggested that Putin meant no disrespect with his original comment on the Russian Wikipedia alternative’s reliability, calling Wikipedia a “popular and respected self-updated resource.”