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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vershbow: Defense Firms Pirating

U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow has called on Press Minister Mikhail Lesin to crack down on compact disk piracy.

Vershbow sent a protest letter to Lesin, who is in charge of licensing companies that make audio and video products, at the beginning of July listing suspect factories -- including some in the military-industrial sector.

After China, Russia is the world's top CD pirate, with annual production capacity of 200 million disks, despite domestic demand of just 10 million.

"According to my information, many factories that manufacture pirate goods service the military and industrial sector, which provokes very serious fears," Vershbow wrote. "I request that the activities of these enterprises be investigated, especially those that service the military and industrial sector."

Military officials were outraged at the suggestion that their facilities were being used to crank out pirated disks.

"This in no way corresponds to reality," said an official in the Zelenograd defense complex, which includes the Zelenograd Factory of Musical Technology. Factory head Vadim Rybakov was similarly dismissive.

The list in Vershbow's letter includes almost all the major local producers of compact disks: the Urals Electronic Factory, the Zelenograd Factory of Musical Technology and Astiko Center. One of the most surprising entries was Russobit-Soft, part of the Russobit group, whose board chairman is Oleg Gordiiko. Gordiiko also chairs the Russian Chamber of Commerce's committee on intellectual property. He was responsible for developing the chamber's anti-piracy program, which was presented to the government by Yevgeny Primakov, the chamber's president, on July 1.

"This is nothing more than the harsh lobbying of the interests of American audio and video product manufacturers," said Gordiiko.