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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gorbachev Asks Gates for Mercy

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Monday asked Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to intercede on behalf of a Perm teacher accused of using pirated software in his classroom.

In an open letter, Gorbachev said the teacher, Alexander Ponosov, should be shown mercy because he did not know he was committing a crime.

"A teacher who has dedicated his life to the education of children and who receives a modest salary that does not bear comparison with the salaries of even regular staff in your company, is threatened with detention in Siberian prison camps," read the letter, posted on the web site of Gorbachev's charitable foundation www.gorby.ru.

Prosecutors accuse Ponosov of violating Microsoft's intellectual property rules by running unlicensed copies of the firm's software on school computers.

Authorities have been mounting a high-profile crackdown on piracy as part of Russia's efforts to join the World Trade Organization.