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Russian publisher prints books on Putin under names of Western authors

"Even by Moscow standards, this is a surreal story," The Guardian's Luke Harding told UPI.

By Jared M. Feldschreiber
Russian publisher prints books on Putin under names of Western authors
Luke Harding. A Russian publishing house has printed a series of books about President Vladimir Putin under the names of Western analysts and journalists without the authors' permission. Harding is one of the writers. Photo by Facebook.

MOSCOW, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- A Russian publishing house printed a series of books about President Vladimir Putin under the names of Western analysts and journalists without the authors' permission.

"Even by Moscow standards, this is a surreal story," The Guardian's Luke Harding told UPI Tuesday. Harding joins The Economist's Edward Lucas and Donald Jensen, a U.S. based Russia expert, whom all say they had no knowledge that the Russian-language books would be attributed to them. The books were produced by the Moscow publisher Algoritm in a series called Project Putin, as reported by The Moscow Times.

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But, they did not write them.

"The first I learned of my 'book' was when a Russian friend found it in a store a couple of weeks ago and tweeted me a picture. I haven't seen a hard copy. The publisher has told Russian TV and radio he got hold of the Ukrainian edition of my book Mafia State, which came out in 2014, then translated it into Russian, and published a version of it without my consent! His excuse? -- 'I couldn't get hold of him.' Ridiculous," exclaimed Harding.

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Founded in 1996, Algoritm specializes in controversial political and social content, and has printed work by many senior Russian officials, including deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, and Vladimir Zhironovsky, a politician and activist.

"I think, most probably, this is a piece of opportunism by [an] unscrupulous publisher trying to make a buck. They've pirated several other 'works,' as you know, by Henry Kissinger, David Sattar, Michael Bohm and Ed Lucas," Harding also told UPI.

"The only thing that gives me pause for thought is that the story has got incredibly wide traction on Russian state TV."

Russia is known for piracy of international music, film and book content even while the Kremlin has strict domestic copyright laws. In the past, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative placed Russia on its priority watch list in its annual report on the world's worst violators -- called the Special 301 Report.

Harding, the author of the aforementioned Mafia State, has worked at The Guardian since 1996, and in February 2011, was refused re-entry into Russia, becoming the one of the first journalists to be expelled from the country since the end of the Cold War. He wrote The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man last year about the National Security Agency leaker who is living in Russia.

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The Snowden Files, along with the fictionalized Time of the Octopus by Snowden's Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, will form the basis of an upcoming Oliver Stone film.

The Project Putin series consists of more than 20 titles about the president and his political views.

"We're now examining our legal options," Harding explained to UPI. "Clearly, this is an unauthorized edition and a breach of copyright."

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