The Russian Wikipedia is protesting against proposed internet censorship laws that are put forward as filters for what is widely accepted as "illegal" content, but could easily be used to block any website the authorities deem fit.
Given the history of abuse in Russia and the lack of freedom of the press, the danger is not just theoretic, it's very much real.
Visitors to the Russian version
of the popular knowledge site are greeted with a notice that the site is down and an explanation.
"Imagine a world without free knowledge," the notice says "Today, the Wikipedia community protests against censorship, dangerous to free knowledge, open to all mankind. We ask that you support in opposing this bill."
The Russian State Duma is set to have a second hearing for amendments to the "Information law" tomorrow. A third hearing, which has not been scheduled yet, needs to take place for the amendments to pass.
"Conditions for determining the content falls under this law will create a thing like the 'great Chinese firewall.' The existing Russian law’s practice shows the high possibility of the worst scenario, in which access to Wikipedia soon will be closed in all country," the local Wikipedia wrote
The community encourages people to get involved, spread the news and contact their representatives to ask for the amendments to be refused.
The same tactic was used, quite successfully, against SOPA and PIPA in the US, earlier this year. The site issued a global blackout of the English Wikipedia in protest. Several other large sites joined the protests, urging people to contact their congressmen, which they did in record numbers.
It remains to be seen whether the same can happen in Russia where the authorities have a much tighter grip and where getting re-elected has more to do with how much Putin wants you to get re-elected than with how many people vote for you.