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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

250,000 Videos, CDs Seized in Piracy Raids

Federal police have confiscated more than 250,000 pirated CDs, DVDs and videos worth millions of dollars in raids at three military installations where criminal rings were operating, federal police said Thursday.

"The military-industrial complex has found itself in an extremely difficult financial situation," said federal economic crime police Colonel Sergei Ganzeyev. "To survive and preserve their intellectual potential, military-industrial businesses had to rent out their spaces."

The raids, in Moscow, the Moscow region and Yekaterinburg, were all within the last two weeks and are part of the government's drive to battle piracy since the State Duma last month set up a special commission headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to deal with the problem.

Since then, police have raided 10 sites in Moscow alone, according to economic crime police spokesman Alexander Vorobyov.

The largest raid to date was last week at Moscow's Accurate Instruments Research Institute, where police confiscated 120,000 DVDs from a company called Miriam XXI, Vorobyov said.

In Yekaterinburg, 70,000 videos belonging to a company called Avtomatika were seized, while in the Moscow region police impounded 30,000 DVDs from a firm called Kompozit.

Russia is one of the world leaders in piracy, producing nearly 100 million illegal video recordings and 1.5 million DVDs a year, according the Russian Anti-Piracy Organization.

"There are four factories in Russia licensed to produce DVDs. Each of them has a capacity of 400,000 disks per month, enough to quench demand in the country. As a result, contraband disks from Russia can be found throughout the CIS, Europe, America and Canada. The problem has become international," RAPO director Konstantin Zemchikov said.

Western governments have taken an active role in lobbying the government to stem the tide, and the problem is a major hurdle to Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization.

"As [President Vladimir] Putin has emphasized, the protection of intellectual property rights is a key element in Russia's preparation to join the World Trade Organization," U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow said in a recent comment published in the business daily Vedomosti.

This summer, the U.S. Embassy sent the Press Ministry a letter with a list of companies it suspected of producing pirated materials and several military installations where they were allegedly operating.

The Press Ministry said it was working with police to deal with the problem.

"Piracy causes irreparable damage to Russia's image in the international community," ministry spokesman Pyotr Poroykov said.