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January 22, 2018

Microsoft software given cold shoulder by Russian distributors

Microsoft said it has a strong commitment to complying with legal requirements.

By Sabrina Dougall

Microsoft sales could be substantially affected by new restrictions enforced by Russian IT firms. Two of Microsoft’s official Russian distributors have slapped sales restrictions on Microsoft software on over 200 companies.

Russian firms MERLION and RRC said they are enforcing the restrictions in response to US sanctions ratified on August 2 which penalised the nation’s involvement in Ukraine and cyberattacks, Reuters reported. US sanctions came into effect on November 28 reducing the loan duration allowance to certain Russian finance companies by 33% or 47%. The Reuters report said both Russian firms cited rules stemming from the recent sanctions – signed into law on August 2 – as further reasons.Microsoft

Russia’s largest IT distributor MERLION was awarded Microsoft distributor of the year in 2013, after partnering with the US firm in 2011. The new restrictions represent a significant back step in the companies’ relationships, following hopes expressed by Sergey Raskolov, Director General of MERLION in 2013 for “a new stage of interaction with Microsoft and the overall development of the Russian software market”.

Microsoft said in a statement to Reuters: “Microsoft has a strong commitment to complying with legal requirements and has robust processes around the world to help ensure that our partners are in compliance as well.”

In early December, the company confirmed partnership with Oracle for certification of its IaaS cloud products. MERLION has consistently been named in the top 45 of Forbes largest private companies in Russia.

Products made by Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab were formally banned under US law in mid-December, following allegations over Kremlin spying. Kaspersky appealed this ruling, denying the government connection and launched an injunction against US Homeland Security last week.

Russian hackers allegedly steal NSA programs via Kaspersky vulnerability
Spying for Russia? It “would simply kill our business”, says Eugene Kaspersky
US law bans Kaspersky products in government agencies

Investigations undertaken by various senior US departments relating to Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election are ongoing. Social media outfits have agreed to cooperate; Twitter raised its total count of fake Russian accounts linked to election influence to 50,258 over the weekend. The social media giant said it would notify almost 700,000 users who engaged with propaganda posts from the bot accounts which sent over a million tweets during the election period.

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The fallout from suspected meddling has led to US legislators setting out a bill to punish any nation attempting to influence a future election, including harsher sanctions on Russia if it should breach the proposed measures.

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