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Russian President Vladimir Putin told domestic video game developers on Tuesday that he will take up their cause at the upcoming BRICS summit in South Africa. 

Representatives of several software companies approached the president in Moscow, at an exhibit dedicated to creative industries, to lobby for putting their issues on the agenda of the August meeting. While there are no barriers to Chinese video games in Russia, Beijing has been reluctant to grant import licenses to Russian developers. 

“We will insert that into the negotiations,” Putin agreed. “The market is colossal. Not only in China, in all the BRICS countries. Very well.”

Even a small number of licenses, between ten and 15, would be a “breath of fresh air,” the developers told the president.

The summit of the world’s leading emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, known as BRICS – is scheduled for August 22 in Durban, South Africa. The Kremlin has not specified whether Putin will attend in person, saying only that Russia would be represented “at the appropriate level.”

At the Moscow event, held at a former industrial bakery, the Russian president was asked if he indulged in video games himself.

“You probably don’t play on weekends,” said the spokesman for one studio.

“I play on weekdays,” joked Putin. 

Russian software companies have been behind a number of gaming titles popular around the world, from ‘Tetris’ to ‘Atomic Heart’. Russian studios were also behind multiplayer online games such as ‘War Thunder’ and ‘World of Warships’. 

The global mega-hit ‘World of Tanks’ was actually developed in neighboring Belarus, with a Russian developer helping – and spinning off a domestic title after Wargaming Group relocated to Cyprus last year due to Western sanctions.