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Did Someone from the U.S. Congress Just Call Putin a “Dickwad” on Wikipedia?

Someone in the U.S. Congress is rolling out the welcome wagon for Russian President Vladimir Putin, sorta. Images mixed by author.

Someone in the U.S. Congress is rolling out the welcome wagon for Russian President Vladimir Putin, sorta. Images mixed by author.

Someone with access to a computer in the U.S. Congress has a habit of trolling Wikipedia users. Last week, a Wikipedia administrator banned a congressional IP address for 10 days because of “disruptive” edits to several articles, including one about “moon landing conspiracies.” With the legislature's hands tied, Wikipedia users didn't expect any more congressional shenanigans until at least August 2. The moratorium on anonymous congressional Wikipedia edits, however, only applied to English-language posts.

Yesterday morning, July 31, the Twitter bot @Congressedits, which automatically logs Wikipedia activity by IP addresses in the U.S. legislature, reported a revision to a Russian-language article about the Russian national anthem. Someone using a congressional IP address replaced the musical notation of the real anthem with the lyrics and arrangement of a popular Ukrainian chant mocking Vladimir Putin (see below).

“Putin khuilo!” (translation: “Putin is a dickwad!”) sheet music, a popular anti-Putin chant in Ukraine. Wikipedia commons.

The title of this little ditty is “Putin khuilo!” which means roughly, “Putin is a dickwad!” The anti-Putin song has grown in popularity since Russia’s intervention in eastern Ukraine, becoming international news in mid-June, when Ukraine’s then-acting Foreign Minister, Andrii Deshchytsia, repeated the lyric in an attempt to pacify a crowd of protesters in Kyiv. Afterwards, Russian officials refused to deal with the Ukrainian diplomat, and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev even suggested that Deshchytsia might be mentally unstable. Five days after the “Putin khuilo” incident, Deshchytsia was replaced.

Though it caused a stir, thanks to @Congressedits, the American government’s “Putin khuilo” zinger never actually graced the published pages of Wikipedia, as it failed to win approval from Russian moderators. (A public record of the attempted change still exists in the post’s edit history, however.) In fact, Russian moderators both rejected the congressional IP address’ suggested revision and banned the IP address for 1 day from making further anonymous edits on Russian-language articles. This means congressional staffers (or whoever it is in the U.S. legislature with such eagerness for Wikipedia pranks) should regain anonymous editing rights on both English-language and Russian-language articles on the same day, August 2.

In other words, August 1, 2014, marks a special occasion: the world's English speakers and Russian speakers are free from the U.S. Congress’ Wikipedia trolling for a day. But the anonymous congressional edits will return in roughly 24 hours. Enthusiasts of moon exploration and musical arrangement, brace yourselves.

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