(QHA) -

The Ukrainian Wikipedia community protests laws that went into effect Jan. 21 that criminalize criticism of government officials. In a protest banner message on its site, the community said that free speech on the internet needs to be protected.

The editors who run the site also announced a daily 30-minute strike from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 21. During that time, the Ukrainian pages of Wikipedia were not available, Kyiv Post reports.

The new law allows government to block websites that are engaged in the spread of extremist information, which is broadly defined. Any material that contains anti-government material and doesn't refer to official Ukrainian government websites can fall into these categories.

Wikipedia follows the rules of neutrality and impartiality, is apolitical, does not support any party or ideology, according to its statement, but believes in free storage, distribution and use of knowledge.

Under the law, Wikipedia warned it could face prosecution if it provides multiple perspectives in articles or controversial and disputed material about living people.

Such protests are not unprecedented for Wikipedia.

On Oct. 4, Italian Wikipedia went on strike against attempts of the Italian Parliament to adopt laws assigning liability to internet sites for failing to remove untrue information about people.

On Jan 18, the English section of Wikipedia protested a proposal to close websites that publish content violating copyright holders or that distribute information without their consent.

On July 10, 2012, Russian Wikipedia struck against a law that banned certain websites.

QHA