Microsoft chairman Bill Gates pledged Tuesday that the computer giant would do "everything it can" to help connect all of Russia's 52,000 schools to the World Wide Web.
Gates' comments came at a conference in Moscow, the Microsoft Business Forum 2006, that included First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Gates is the wealthiest person in the world.
The conference took place at the same time that U.S. and Russian officials are working to hammer out a deal that would enable Russia to enter the World Trade Organization.
Congressional elections Tuesday in the United States were also expected to affect the WTO negotiations, with Democrats poised to take over the House of Representatives -- and, by extension, the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees all trade deals.
Intellectual property rights, which are a central part of the WTO talks, also figured at Tuesday's conference.
"We are working to provide a greater guarantee of intellectual property rights, to lift administrative barriers and introduce new mechanisms to fight piracy," Medvedev said in televised comments.
Gates added that he had seen "major progress" in the country's protection of intellectual property rights.
Microsoft has been a global crusader against pirated software, said Valery German, director of Intels, an association of patent attorneys.
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