Russia to upgrade homegrown encyclopedia after Putin pans Wikipedia

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is to set up a new online site for its national encyclopedia after President Vladimir Putin said Wikipedia was unreliable and should be replaced.

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an annual VTB Capital "Russia Calling" Investment Forum in Moscow, Russia, November 20, 2019. Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo/File Photo

The move will ensure people can find “reliable information that is constantly updated on the basis of scientifically verified sources of knowledge,” a government resolution said.

Putin last month proposed replacing the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia Wikipedia with an electronic version of the Great Russian Encyclopaedia - the successor to the Soviet Union’s main encyclopedia.

“This, at any rate, would be reliable information offered in a modern form,” Putin said then.

In 2015, Russia briefly blocked the Russian-language version of Wikipedia for an article containing information on cannabis under legislation banning sites with drug-related material.

Moscow has also introduced tougher online controls over the Russian segment of the internet so that it can keep on functioning even if cut off from foreign infrastructure.

The Great Russian Encyclopaedia is already available in a basic electronic format.

The new online portal will cost about 2 billion roubles ($31 million), Sergei Kravets, an editor for the Great Russian Encyclopaedia was quoted as saying on Nov. 21 by TASS news agency.

The government will also set up a national research and education center for the Great Russian Encyclopaedia, the resolution, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, said.

(This story has been refiled to clarify in headline that Putin is critical of Wikipedia, no change to text)

Reporting by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn and Angus MacSwan