Talk about Ukraine, its millennial history, its art and its people. It is the new mission of Wikipedia, the most consulted free online encyclopedia in the world , which last March 3, as a result of the Russian invasion, gathered its registered users (over 40 million accounts), its active editors ( more than 125,000) and all those who care about the fate of Ukraine, inviting them to write on the platform as many items as possible related to the country’s cultural heritage. Target? Disseminating the Ukrainian historical identity, documenting it to save it from the risk of cancellation and demonstrating that its vocation is that of an independent nation, not a mere province of an empire. And propose peace.
“Heritage and cultural identities can play a fundamental role in relations between peoples. Not as generators of conflicts and oppression but, on the contrary, of mutual interest, dialogue and mutual understanding and interrelation “. Thus the community of volunteers of Wikipedia Italy commented on the choice to launch a” writing week “, which has already lasted for two weeks and for which no deadline has been set, in favor
of Ukrainian culture .. To make Ukraine known by using all the information channels made available by the encyclopedia. This is because the war unleashed by Vladimir Putin is putting at risk not only thousands of human lives, but also churches, theaters, buildings and works of art that belong to the Ukrainian people.
As Anna Reid reports in an article for The GuardianIn Kiev and across the country, archive staff are working day and night to scan documents and move digitized material to servers overseas, in order to avoid Russian “archivocide”. For some, however, it is already too late. The building that houses the KGB registers of the Chernihiv province, north of the capital, lost its roof in a bombing a few days ago and it is not yet clear how much it was lost.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Kharkiv, encircled by the Russian army for days and under heavy bombing, was also damaged . Among the many masterpieces, the Museum houses eleven canvases by the 19th-century Russian-Ukrainian painter Ilya Repin. “The irony of the situation – he told thethe head of the museum’s foreign art department – “is that we must save the works of Russian artists from their own people.”
In Odessa, on the Black Sea, where Russian troops are expected to attempt an overnight landing, the collections of the art museum are in danger. Volunteers helped staff pack the paintings and bring them to safety for fear of looting by the Russians.
What no invading army can confiscate is digitally transmitted knowledge. Wikipedia’s intent is precisely to ensure the virtual transmission of this knowledge: “While some members of our global community are in danger from war, others in Russia are putting their own freedom at risk to avoid disinformation and other forms of vandalism. on the encyclopedia, continuing to provide their contribution. As volunteers of Wikimedia projects, we all believe in the value of collaboration and sharing, against all forms of violence. ” Said Iolanda Pensa, President of Wikimedia Italy.
Among the other initiatives carried out by Wikipedia in favor of the Ukrainian identity cultural heritage is theCultural Diplomacy Month of Ukraine 2022 , a pre-conflict writing contest that aims to create and improve voices about Ukraine’s culture and personalities in as many language editions of Wikipedia as possible. The project was organized by Wikimedia Ukraine in collaboration with the Ukrainian Institute and the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In addition, WikiGap 2022 was also launched on 8 March , an editathon entirely dedicated to the biographies of Ukrainian women.