3. A police aspect of the problem

There are always articles in the Russian press about the routine dispersal of pirate CD-ROMs of popular computer programs, by traders in Moscow outside the OMON (civilian police headquarters); somewhere at the All-Russian Exhibition Centre (formerly the NKVD building); in the Mitino district; and near the Gorbunov Palace of Culture (a favourite location called "Gorbushka").

One's first reaction is: "At last!" But later, other ideas surface. When people with machine guns at the ready are examining a hawker's documents in a pedestrian subway, nine out of ten passers-by assume not that they're enforcing law and order, but collecting a cut to turn a blind eye. The tenth passer-by believes that the small fry will be hauled in again, while the real organisers of illegal trade will get off with a mild scare. God forbid the idea that any problem can be solved purely by police action in our country! It has not proved a workable approach so far, and even when it appeared so, historically it led us down the path of the Gulag labour camps. Furthermore, the possibility is always looming.

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