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23 May, 2023 19:30

Ex-Russian president backs pirating foreign content

Dmitry Medvedev told RT that the move is absolutely justified under “siege” conditions
Ex-Russian president backs pirating foreign content

Former President Dmitry Medvedev has no problem with Russians pirating Western intellectual property in the face of sanctions the US and its allies have imposed, he told RT on Tuesday.

In an interview with RT’s Maria Finoshina, Medvedev dodged the question of whether Russia should amend its intellectual property law, which is based on the Berne and Geneva conventions. He admitted, however, that he fully endorses online piracy.

“That I welcome the use of pirated content in an environment where we have been besieged from all sides is absolutely true. The more varied content, the better. And preferably free,” he said.

Major Hollywood studios – including Universal, Sony, Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. – embargoed their releases in Russia in March 2022, in protest at Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly said it considers the sanctions illegitimate and will work around them. 

In January, the Russian legislature proposed a workaround that would allow Western features to be shown without regard to copyright, but it has not yet been approved. Meanwhile, domestic productions have rushed to fill the vacuum, with early 2023 becoming a bumper season for Russian cinema. 

Medvedev first called for piracy back in March, urging Russians to “find proper pirates and download everything from them” and inflict “maximum damage” so the Western companies that left would go broke. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov agreed, saying the Western governments had engaged in actual piracy by seizing Russian assets and funds. 

A jurist by trade, Medvedev served as Russia’s president from 2008 to 2012, and prime minister until 2020. He is currently the deputy chair of the National Security Council, which is formally chaired by President Vladimir Putin.

His efforts to negotiate with the West at the time were “a waste of time and effort” in hindsight,  Medvedev admitted to RT. The West wants Russia destroyed, or at the very least contained, he added. 

“They were not ready for dialogue,” the former president told Finoshina. “They don't want peace, they want war. They don’t want cooperation, they want confrontation.”

Asked if there is any hope for future negotiations, Medvedev was skeptical. “Not yet,” he told RT. “There’s no one to talk with.”