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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia set to crack down on unlicensed arms production abroad

RIA Novosti

05/12/2006 16:10 MOSCOW, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia intends to step up its efforts to prevent illegal production and sales of Russian arms abroad, a senior Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.

Russia says it suffers major losses from the counterfeit manufacture of Kalashnikov assault rifles in Bulgaria. The armies of 47 countries use the AK-47 assault rifle, known as the Kalashnikov after its designer, Mikhail Kalashnikov.

About 100 million AK-47s and modified versions are believed to circulate around the world, but many of them are produced illegally.

"Some progress has been made with Bulgaria's Arsenal company," Ambassador-at-Large Alexander Alexeyev said.

Arsenal's license to produce Kalashnikov rifles expired a long time ago, but it has not stopped their production.

An official from Rosoboronexport, Russia's state-controlled arms exporter, said in April that Arsenal displayed a wide range of counterfeit Kalashnikov assault rifles at the DSA 2006 arms show in Malaysia.

Alexeyev said half of all NATO member countries have yet to sign intellectual property rights protection agreements with Russia.

"There are no agreements with Lithuania, Latvia, Canada, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. Negotiations are under way with the United States and the U.K.," he said.

He said that the signing of such agreements will lay the legal groundwork for the fight against infringements of intellectual property rights and licensing agreements.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said earlier that Russia loses billions of dollars from illegal production of the Kalashnikov assault rifles in Bulgaria.

He said that the annual illegal sales of unlicensed small arms on the international market totaled about $2 billion, with counterfeit Kalashnikov assault rifles accounting for 80-90% of the volume.

Rosoboronexport said this past summer it will file lawsuits with international arbitration courts over the illegal production of Russian small arms and light weapons abroad.

Kalashnikov producer Izhmash said that Russia accounts for only 10-12% of the million Kalashnikov rifles sold globally every year, with the rest being unlicensed copies.

It said there is no single licensing agreement conforming to international legal norms that specifically protects Russia's intellectual property rights in small arms and light weapons production.



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