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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cops Decry Barriers in War With Pirates

The police are being hindered in their efforts to clamp down on counterfeiters in part due to a lack of cooperation from the West, a top Interior Ministry official said Tuesday.

Other factors, such as low purchasing power and mild punishments for offenders, could help push up the number of factories making pirated CDs and DVDs by 25 percent this year, Sergei Meshcheryakov, head of the ministry's economic security department, said at a news conference.

Rampant piracy is a major sticking point in Moscow's bid to join the World Trade Organization. In recent years, Russia has became the world's leading exporter of illegal discs and has the biggest domestic market for pirated music after China, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

But while the West often criticizes Russia for not doing enough to root out piracy, it does little to help, Meshcheryakov said.

He assailed the "paradoxical situation" that all the equipment used by pirates comes from abroad, as Russia does not manufacture the sophisticated machines needed to mass-produce CDs and DVDs.

Pirates use false documentation to bring in the machines, Meshcheryakov said. "If we had some pre-emptive information [from the West], we would already be waiting for the equipment at customs."

Meshcheryakov said there were 42 factories that might be involved in producing counterfeit disks.

"The number is constantly growing and may increase by 10 by the end of the year," he said.

Less than six months ago, there were 38 factories cranking out pirated disks, according to the London-based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Mikhail Deryugin, deputy director of the Russian Anti-Piracy Organization, said that the state -- and not Western governments -- should be faulted for the import of disk-copying equipment. Anybody with $2 million to $3 million can easily bring such machines into Russia, he said.

Meshcheryakov also complained that licensed DVDs -- which retail for up to 500 rubles ($18) but cost only 10 rubles (35 cents) to make -- have been priced out of the market, opening the way for counterfeiters.

Furthermore, those pirates who are caught often get off much too easily, Meshcheryakov said.

Last year, 446 people were found guilty of violating intellectual property rights and trademark law, but only 11 of them were sentenced to time in jail, he said.

The rest got away with fines and suspended sentences.

In the past, anti-piracy groups have argued that while Russia's anti-piracy legislation is adequate, the will to enforce it is still lacking.