Archive:Press releases/The Wikimedia Foundation and Kyivstar partner to offer free access to Wikipedia

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    The Wikimedia Foundation and Kyivstar partner to offer free access to Wikipedia

    • Wikipedia Zero brings free mobile access to Wikipedia to more than 25 million Ukrainians

    Kyivstar, the largest mobile network operator in Ukraine, has become the country’s first, and the latest, mobile operator to offer subscribers access to Wikipedia for free, as part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s global initiative Wikipedia Zero to enable everyone to access all the free knowledge on Wikipedia - even if they can't afford the mobile data charges.

    The partnership will reduce barriers to sharing in free knowledge, ultimately providing greater opportunity for the Ukrainian people to use and create information about issues that matter to them, through access to Wikipedia on mobile phones with no data charges.

    “As the operator of Wikipedia, the world’s largest and most trusted free knowledge resource, the Wikimedia Foundation is deeply committed to ensuring people around the world have access to accurate and relevant information. By collaborating with Kyivstar in Ukraine we are working to ensure the Ukrainian people can not only access the knowledge on Wikipedia without barriers on mobile phones with no data charges, but that they can become knowledge creators themselves,” said Wikimedia Foundation Chief Communications Officer, Katherine Maher.

    The Wikimedia Foundation hopes that this latest Wikipedia Zero initiative will encourage more people to join the already active community of Ukrainian Wikipedians, who have demonstrated a deep commitment to free knowledge over the ten year history of Ukrainian Wikipedia and despite recent turmoil.

    At this year’s annual Wikipedia conference in London, Wikimania, Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales announced the late Ukrainian Wikipedian, Ihor Kostenko, as Wikipedian of the Year in recognition of his major achievements for Wikipedia as an individual. Ihor was passionate about engaging more Ukrainians as editors and readers of Wikipedia, and had made plans for a ‘Wiki flashmob’ to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Ukrainian Wikipedia. Scheduled for January 20th, 2014, it was cancelled as protests broke out in Kyiv. Less than one month later, Ihor, who was only 22, died tragically when he was shot twice on the Euromaidan.

    This past summer, Ukrainian Wikimedians demonstrated their passion to access and grow the knowledge of their country by taking part in the annual Wiki Loves Monuments global photography competition. The event, which brings together amateur and professional photographers, encourages people to capture images of the world’s historic monuments. Their photos are shared with the world under free licence via Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository that also hosts most of the images available on Wikipedia.

    In a blog post, Wikimedian Olena Zakharian explained why Wiki Loves Monuments is important despite the turbulent times in Ukraine. She said “Knowledge can make people stronger and the world a better place. We also believe that the culture and history of those make us who we are today and what will be tomorrow. We want to gather all inherited human knowledge and make it available for everyone.” (NB translated from original text.)

    Currently an estimated 400 million mobile subscribers have free access to Wikipedia, thanks to 39 operators in 34 countries who have joined Wikipedia Zero. Kyivstar, a subsidiary of VimpelCom Ltd., is the fifth VimpelCom operator to launch as part of a global partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation. Kyivstar and our other partners have demonstrated their leadership in supporting the education, economic growth and societal improvement in their countries.

    About the Wikimedia Foundation

    The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Across its 287 language versions, Wikipedia contains more than 32 million articles. Every month, roughly 80,000 active volunteers contribute to Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects. According to comScore Media Metrix, the projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation receive 413 million unique visitors per month on desktop alone, making them the fifth-most popular web property worldwide (July 2014). Based in San Francisco, California, the Wikimedia Foundation is an audited, 501(c)(3) charity that is funded primarily through donations and grants.

    Wikimedia Foundation Press Contact:

    Katherine Maher

    +1 415-839-6885 ext 6633