Detention of Mark Bernstein

Hacker News - Thu Jun 23 13:48

On 11 March 2022, Mark Izraylevich Bernstein (Russian: Марк Израйлевич Бернштейн), a Belarusian blogger and editor of the Russian-language Wikipedia based in Minsk, was detained by the Belarusian GUBOPiK security force after online accusations of violating the 2022 Russian fake news law for his editing of Wikipedia articles on the topic of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[1][2] He was sentenced to 15 days' administrative arrest under Article 24.3 of the Administrative Code of Belarus (for disobedience to police officers).[3][4][5]

Background[edit]

Bernstein (holding microphone) at Moscow's WikiConference on 14 September 2014

Bernstein has edited Wikipedia under the username Pessimist2006.[6] From late 2009[7] to early 2022,[2] Bernstein was one of the 50 most active editors of the Russian Wikipedia, with over 200,000 edits.[2][8] He was commissioned by other encyclopedia publishers to write articles. He described his "best" achievement in Wikipedia in 2009 as his work on an article on censorship in the Soviet Union, in which he had cited about 250 sources. At the time he was also interviewed by Deutsche Welle for his expertise in commenting on the development of the Belarusian-language Wikipedia project, which exists in two grammatical versions, Taraškievica and Narkamaŭka.[9] Bernstein advised new Wikipedia editors to first learn from the editing patterns of experienced editors, and to be prepared for working with editors holding very different and often opposed viewpoints, which he saw as a key to the development of Wikipedia articles.[7]

Arrest and detention[edit]

When some editors of the Russian Wikipedia claimed that the name "Russian invasion of Ukraine (2022)" violates Wikipedia's policy to present information from a neutral point of view, Bernstein said, "Russian troops invaded the territory of Ukraine. It's just a fact, not a point of view".[10] On 10 March 2022, a Russian propaganda online messaging forum on Telegram, Mrakoborets (lit.'Auror', a Harry Potter reference), published private information about Bernstein and accused him of violating a new Russian law against publishing fake news. The forum claimed that Bernstein's editing of Wikipedia articles on the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine violated the new law.[11][1]

On 11 March 2022, GUBOPiK, the Belarusian Main Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime and Corruption, detained Bernstein[2] in Minsk.[12] Pro-government Telegram channels published a video recording of Bernstein's detention and accused him of spreading fake "anti-Russian" information.[1][2] On 12 March 2022, he was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest for "disobedience to a lawful order or demand of an official" (article 24.3 of the Administrative Code of Belarus).[3][4]

On 11 March 2022, the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, stated in response to an enquiry about Bernstein's detention that the Foundations' "Trust and Safety and Human Rights teams [were] monitoring the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and [were] in close touch with [Wikimedia] communities in the region to ensure their safety and respond to their needs."[2][7]

On 26 March 2022, the Belarusian newspaper Nasha Niva reported that Bernstein was not released after 15 days of arrest and claimed that he was charged with "organization and preparation of actions grossly violating public order, or active participation in them" (article 342.1 of the Criminal Code of Belarus).[13] In a joint statement of seven organizations, including the Viasna Human Rights Centre, dated March 29, 2022, he was recognized as a political prisoner.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "В Беларуси задержали Марка Бернштейна — активиста и популяризатора интернет-энциклопедии Wikipedia.org" [Mark Bernstein – an activist and populariser of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia – was detained in Belarus]. Zerkalo.io (in Russian). 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 11 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Song, Victoria (11 March 2022). "A top Wikipedia editor has been arrested in Belarus". The Verge. Archived from the original on 11 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Популяризатору интернет-энциклопедии Wikipedia Марку Берштейну дали 15 суток — за «неповиновение»". zerkalo.io. 12 March 2022. Archived from the original on 12 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Wikipedia Promoter Mark Bernshtein was Sentenced for 15 Days of Detention for "Disobedience"". Charter 97. 12 March 2022. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  5. ^ "Марк Бернштейн из топ-50 лучших русскоязычных авторов рассказал о своей викидеятельности" [Mark Bernstein of the top 50 Russian-language authors talks about his work]. Мир энциклопедий (in Russian). 11 November 2009. Archived from the original on 24 February 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  6. ^ Omer Benjakob, Russia's War on Truth: Top Wikipedia Editor Arrested Amidst Ukraine Censorship Archived 14 March 2022 at the Wayback Machine Haaretz 14 March 2022
  7. ^ a b c "Марк Бернштейн из топ-50 лучших русскоязычных авторов рассказал о своей викидеятельности" [Mark Bernstein of the top 50 Russian-language authors talks about his work]. Мир энциклопедий (in Russian). 11 November 2009. Archived from the original on 24 February 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  8. ^ Kozlova, Darya (17 March 2022). "Правочный режим. ФСО редактирует статьи в «Википедии» об Украине, википедистов преследуют и угрожают блокировкой проекта — все из-за «спецоперации»" [FSO (Federal Protective Service) edits articles on Wikipedia about Ukraine, Wikipedians are being persecuted and threatened with block of their project – all because of a "special operation"]. Novaya Gazeta (in Russian). Archived from the original on 18 March 2022. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  9. ^ Павлюк Быковский ‘У белорусскоязычной Википедии есть повод для праздника ,’ Archived 15 March 2022 at the Wayback Machine Deutsche Welle 17 November 2010
  10. ^ Harrison, Stephen (1 March 2022). "How the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Is Playing Out on English, Ukrainian, and Russian Wikipedia". Slate. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  11. ^ "В Беларуси задержали редактора "Википедии" Марка Бернштейна" [Wikipedia editor Mark Bernstein detained in Belarus] (in Russian). Current Time TV. 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 15 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  12. ^ "Entrepreneur, Activist Mark Bernstein Detained In Minsk". Charter 97. 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 11 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  13. ^ "На аўтара «Вікіпедыі» Марка Бернштэйна завялі крымінальную справу". Nasha Niva (in Belarusian). 26 March 2022. Archived from the original on 29 March 2022. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  14. ^ "13 people recognized as political prisoners following recent convictions and detentions". spring96.org. Archived from the original on 29 March 2022. Retrieved 29 March 2022.