One of Russia’s most eminent film directors, Eldar Ryazanov, will head the new Anti Video Piracy Assn., sources in Moscow announced Feb. 21.

The move, which could be a significant step in the battle against Russia’s still-burgeoning illegal film copying and distribution business, brings together representatives from three of the country’s major video distributors – Varus Video, Premier Film and Krupny Plan.

Chris Abel-Smith, managing director of Varus Video, said the association would seek to widen its numbers by inviting other companies to join, to share activity in lobbying the government to reduce the existing 70% tax on video rental as well as on the anti-piracy front.

Varus Video is a joint venture which brought the first major legal video distribution contract to Russia last spring when it signed on with Warner Bros. Home Video. It now has 200-plus retail outlets across Russia and other countries of the ex-Soviet Union.

“It took us 18 months to rid the book industry of major piracy, and I feel that with this experience under our belt we can repeat the exercise with video,” said Vladimir Grigoriev, copyright protection official with Premier.