MOSCOW — Russian authorities appear ready to take major new steps in their fight against piracy fol-lowing meetings Tuesday between Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomydrin and U.S. reps.

Jack Valenti, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Assn., met with Chernomydrin together with Arthur Hil-ler, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and Sergei Solovyov, film director and chief of the 20th Moscow Film Festival and chairman of the Russian Filmmakers’ Union. Valenti and Hiller are in the city for the Moscow festival, which is runs until July 29.

“I am delighted to report to you that the Russian (Prime Minister) said, without hesitation, that the Russian gov-ernment would totally support our antipiracy plan,” Valenti said, adding that Chernomydrin had authorized the creation of a special unit of the Ministry of the Interior, whose sole mandate would be the investigation and prosecution of copyright-breakers.

Valenti quoted figures claiming that the Russian government loses $300 million to $400 million annually in taxes diverted by pirates, while the Russian production and distribution industry lost approximately $500 million in re-lated revenues.

“Without a forum for legitimate product, there is no market for Russian artists, directors and distributors. We have presented a detailed and comprehensive plan, endorsed by the great bulk of the Russian creative and distri-bution community, which should stamp out piracy within a given amount of time.”Moscow fest director Solovyov added that potential budget revenues from enforcement of copyright obligations could provide a major funding source for the Russian film community.

Valenti also urged Chernomydrin to create a favorable climate for private investment in the Russian film industry, principally through creation and implementation of tax breaks specified under a new Law on Cinema.

Valenti also committed U.S. efforts to future training for Russian film professionals, proposing future swap/training schemes for young Russian artists that could bring them closer to the heart of the developing tech-nological scene. From the Russian side, Solovyov emphasized that such training, especially in fields such as film production, was essential for the continued survival of the local industry.

Reception from Russian public was warm, but Valenti may face a more demanding audience today when he par-ticipates in a roundtable discussion on piracy with producers and professional from around the CIS.

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