Russia allegedly edits Wiki page about MH17 crash

21 Jul 2014

The Kremlin, Moscow. Image via Wikimedia Commons

A Twitter bot designed to monitor Wikipedia edits from the Russian government IP address has apparently shown it edited the page about the recent Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine.

The account @RuGovEdits supposedly found the Russian-language Wikipedia page created to detail the downing of MH17 had been instigated by pro-Russian separatists backed by the Russian government, Western media reported.

A missile is said to have shot down the airliner last Thursday, killing the 298 people on board.

According to Ars Technica and @RusGovEdits, the edit has been located as being from the building of Russia’s state-owned TV station, All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK).

The original tweet published on the site had said the aircraft had been shot down by “terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation.”

Following the supposed Russian government edit, this was changed to simply, “The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers.”

Wikipedia has called on companies and governments to not interfere with its Wikipedia pages unless they explicitly say they were the sources for the changes, particularly for PR companies looking to maintain the reputation of their clients.

With Russia, Ukraine and Ukrainian separatists continuing to deny any involvement with the incident, the international community is calling for a straight answer.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic