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Russia uses Microsoft to target dissidents and activists

Surveillance video shot by the police shows plainclothes officers confiscating computers from Baikal Environmental Wave, a prominent environmental group that has been organizing protests against Vladimir Putin's decision to reopen a paper plant that is polluting Lake Baikal.

On Saturday, the New York Times published an interesting story and video about a new tactic that Russia is using to go after its critics. As Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow summarizes:

Russian police use the pretense of enforcing Microsoft’s copyrights as an excuse to raid the offices of human rights, environmental and dissident NGOs, and Microsoft has not intervened to stop it, even when the groups are using legitimate, licensed copies of Microsoft software. Police often claim to have discovered pirated software on seized computers even before examining them, and claim that the investigations come at Microsoft’s requests. Microsoft lawyers have cooperated with raids on opposition newspapers, whose editors say that the raids would not have taken place without Microsoft’s complicity. During raids, police have been spotted removing Microsoft “Certificate of Authenticity” stickers on confiscated PCs. Microsoft’s lawyers testified in support of police claims that pirated software was found on PCs, even though the court later found that the PCs were never examined.