Protecting the Russian market from counterfeit goods has become especially important, a spokesman for the Main Department for Combating Economic Crimes of the Interior Ministry's Federal Service for Economic and Tax Crimes told RIA Novosti.
Commenting on Assistant U.S. Commerce Secretary William Lash's statement at a press conference on the protection of intellectual property rights in Moscow on July 14, the press service noted that the day before Mr. Lash went to the Interior Ministry, Sergei Veryovkin-Rakhalsky, a deputy interior minister and the head of the service, and the leadership of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia held a working meeting.
The sides discussed in detail the fight against counterfeit goods. The federal service's leadership and representatives of American businesses agreed to meet in September 2004.
The service reported that the Russian government was controlling the implementation of measures aimed at solving this problem.
In 2002, a government program, which is headed by a representative of the Russian government, was adopted to counter intellectual property rights violations.
The fight against piracy is a priority for the Interior Ministry. The Main Department for Combating Economic Crimes is organizing and coordinating the work. In 1999, a special division of the department was created to combat intellectual property violations. In 2003, similar divisions were set up in many subjects of the Russian Federation.
In 2003, the Russian law enforcement agencies discovered 500 underground factories, 3,500 criminal cases were launched and 20,500 people have been convicted of administrative violations.
As a result, the sale of pirated goods in 2003 decreased by 15% and the trend has continued in 2004. In the first six months of this year, 230 illegal factories were closed and 2,300 criminal cases were launched in connection with manufacturing and selling pirated goods. The law enforcement officers confiscated 750 million rubles, or $26 million, in pirated goods.
About 14,400 people were convicted of administrative violations.