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Microsoft implicated in Russian crackdown on political dissent

September 13, 2010

In a New York Times investigative report released yesterday, Microsoft was implicated in the recent increase in Russian police seizures of computers and documents from civil society groups on grounds of suspected software piracy. Marina Rikhvanova’s (Russia, 2008) organization, Baikal Environmental Wave, was featured prominently in the article, which provided insight into the January police raid that coincided with the organization’s plans for a public demonstration against a pulp and paper mill recently reopened by the government. Microsoft has responded with a change in its policy in Russia.

The New York Times stated that Microsoft will “essentially prohibit its Russian division from taking part in software piracy cases against government opponents, responding to criticism that it was assisting the authorities in a crackdown on dissent.” Baikal Environmental Wave and Rikhvanova have had many run-ins with police during their decades-long battle to protect Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake. Various intimidation tactics and more recently, computer seizures, have been aimed at impairing their ability to garner support for their opposition to polluting industry.

Above the Law: Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent [The New York Times]

Microsoft Changes Policy Over Russian Crackdown [The New York Times]

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