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Russian version of Wikipedia to launch Monday, reports say

(Reuters) - A full-scale launch of Ruwiki, a Russian version of the popular Wikipedia internet encyclopaedia, will take place on Monday, according to Russian media reports.

Beta testing - a limited audience testing of the site - started in mid-2023, the daily Kommersant reported, and there were reportedly already more articles in Ruwiki than in the Russian-language segment of Wikipedia.

Russia has said it was not yet planning to block Wikipedia - one of the few surviving independent sources of information in Russia since a state crackdown on online content intensified after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Russian courts, however, have handed the online encyclopaedia a series of fines over Ukraine-related content since.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his approval to new alternative platforms to Wikipedia in May of 2022, according to Russian media.

The Izvestia newspaper reported last week, citing Ruwiki's press service, that the most-read articles during the beta testing phase included a list of deaths in 2023, the escalation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Russia's military operation in Ukraine and the highest-grossing films in Russia.

The average user would spend more than six minutes on the site, and the average viewing depth was over five pages in the trial phase, Izvestia reported.

Kommersant said that the founders of Ruwiki would not disclose how much the project had cost or the names of the site's investors.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne: Editing by Neil Fullick)