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Monday, November 18, 2002
Russian police seize US$1 million worth of pirated video discs in Moscow

Russian police raided a Moscow firm that was producing bootleg DVDS on the grounds of a government research institute and seized an estimated US$1 million worth of pirated discs, the Interior Ministry said Friday. Police raided the firm's warehouse and workshop on Thursday, confiscating 70,000 DVDS and 100,000 boxes. The discs contained pornographic material and films that were not licensed to be shown in Russia, the statement said.

The firm, called "Miriam XXI," was located on the grounds of the Scientific Research Institute for Precise Instruments in Moscow, according to the statement. A woman who answered the phone at the institute and gave only her first name, Olga, said it is a government research center belonging to Rosaviakosmos, the Russian Space Agency.

The Interior Ministry said the raid was part of a joint effort between various Russian law enforcement agencies, which was launched last month at a government meeting devoted to defense of intellectual property.

The firm produced counterfeit video products for sale in the Russian regions, the Baltics and abroad, the ministry said.

The United States has been urging the Russian government to take stronger action against software piracy, saying Russia has become the world's second largest producer of counterfeit music and video products after China.

Russia manufactures more than 200 million CDs and DVDs a year, while the domestic demand is estimated at just 10 million, according to the U.S. Embassy. In a statement this summer, the embassy called it "especially troubling" that many pirated products are produced at government-controlled facilities.

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