Russian police are using anti-piracy raids on behalf of Microsoft to suppress dissent, according to a Saturday report in the New York Times.
The paper reports that police in January raided the offices of an environmental group in Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal, and confiscated the group's computers claiming that the group had been using pirated software.
But the Times reports that the group Baikal Environmental Wave had deliberately bought legal software and kept the receipts in anticipation of such an event.The group had been protesting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's decision to re-open a polluting paper factory on Lake Baikal, the Times reports.
The raid is just one of several others similar in nature that have been taking place elsewhere in Russia, according to the Times. Human rights activists have appealed to Microsoft for help to fight of such raids, but Microsoft has replied that it has to comply with the law.
"We have to protect our products from piracy, but we also have a commitment to respect fundamental human rights," said Microsoft's director of public affairs Kevin Kutz in a statement issued to the Times in response to its story. "Microsoft antipiracy efforts are designed to honor both objectives, but we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard."