Russia edits Wikipedia, removes line blaming it for causing MH17 crash

After trading accusations with Ukraine on who is responsible for MH17’s crash, Russia has moved the blame game to Wikipedia, UK daily The Telegraph reported today.

The Russian government has apparently removed sections in the online encyclopaedia that accuse it of providing “terrorists” with the weapon that shot down the Malaysia Airlines plane on Thursday.

It instead replaced the section with a sentence blaming Ukrainian soliders for the crash, the newspaper said, citing a Twitter bot which monitors Wikipedia edits from Russian government IP addresses.

The Russian language version of a Wikipedia page listing civil aviation accidents had originally said MH17 was shot down “by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation”.

But an hour later, an Internet user from within the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (RTR) removed the section and instead wrote: “The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers".

Wikipedia, an encyclopaedia which anyone can edit, logs all changes made to its pages along with the username and IP address.

RUGovEdits monitors any changes to Wikipedia made from Russian government computers and tweets them.

According to Telegraph, a tweet from RUGovEdits today, translated into English, says “Wikipedia article list of aircraft accidents in civil aviation has been edited by RTR”.

RUGofEdits was created based on a source code used for an automated Twitter bot called congress-edits, which was created to monitor changes made from United States Congress computers.

The Wikipedia edits on the culprits behind MH17’s crash reflects the accusations both Russia and Ukraine have exchanged over Thursday’s tragedy.

Ukraine today published an image of a tiny corpse of a baby lying in a field, and accused Russian President Vladmir Putin of murdering the infant.

Putin had earlier denied Russia was to blame for the tragedy, pointing the finger at Ukraine instead.

“Certainly, the government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy,” Putin said yesterday.

MH17 was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam when it was shot down as it flew over rebel-held eastern Ukraine. All 298 passengers and crew were killed.

This is the second tragedy to hit the national airline following the disappearance of flight MH370 on March 8.

In just four months, Malaysia Airlines has lost two planes, both Boeing 777s, carrying a total of 537 people, the biggest casualty toll suffered by any airline over such a short time span. – July 19, 2014.