Some of Wikipedia’s harshest critics have dug up an embarrassing bit of Wikipedia history in recent days. Most notable: The site’s first-ever Wikipedian of the Year is a former paid propaganda flack for the authoritarian Kazakh government, known for its iron control over free media and awful human-rights record.
Rauan Kenzhekhanuly is a Kazakh government man through and through. The former first secretary at the country’s Russian embassy also served as Moscow Bureau chief for the National TV Agency, a government propaganda arm launched by the daughter of Kazakh’s all-powerful president-cum-dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Now Kenzhekhanuly runs WikiBilim, an organization devoted to ballooning the size of the Kazakh language Wikipedia. But while WikiBlim may be a non-profit, it’s also backed financially by the state’s sovereign oil wealth fund, which is run by none other than the President Nazarbayev’s son-in-law.