Officials in Moscow said on Sunday that the move would ensure that the Russian people had access to “reliable information that is constantly updated on the basis of scientifically verified sources of knowledge.”
The new online portal was said to receive about 31 million dollars in state funding between 2020 and 2022.
Last month, Putin proposed setting up a “Great Russian Encyclopaedia” as an alternative to Wikipedia, arguing that the information there was not always adequately verified.
“What the president and some other speakers meant was that, with all due respect, the information published and regularly updated in Wikipedia is not guaranteed by anyone. Nobody guarantees that it is correct and or credible,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“The president meant that we need to create a source of encyclopaedic knowledge with guaranteed credibility accessible, and that would be the Great Russian Encyclopaedia,” he added.
Peskov also ruled out the possibility of blocking or restricting Russian residents’ access to Wikipedia, saying, “There is no talk of any bans, any access restrictions for Wikipedia, and there can be no talk of anything like that.”
All the entries on the encyclopaedic portal will be of purely scientific and educational nature and “free of any political or ideological agenda,” according to authors of the project.
The authors said they plan to attract an audience of at least 10 million people, which would include students, researchers, civil servants, media people and all those interested in reliable data.
In 2015, Moscow briefly blocked the Russian version of Wikipedia for an article containing information on cannabis under legislation banning sites with drug-related material.