Microsoft on Monday rebuffed a public appeal by Mikhail Gorbachev for its chairman, Bill Gates, to intervene on behalf of a Russian school principal charged with software piracy.
The case of Alexander Ponosov has galvanized public attention in Russia, in part because the principal says he innocently purchased computers with the unauthorized Windows software already installed.
Praising Russia's enforcement of intellectual property rights, Microsoft sought to distance itself from the prosecution in a statement issued by the U.S. company's public relations agency in London. "Mr. Ponosov's case is a criminal case and as such was initiated and investigated by the public prosecutor's office in Russia," said Microsoft, whose European operations are based in Paris. "We are sure that the Russian courts will make a fair decision."
The company added: "We do respect the Russian government's position on the importance of protecting intellectual property rights."