Russia legalizes sleazy ‘grey market’ for tech products in bid to evade sanctions


The tech and automotive markets in Russia are beginning to shift to the gray side of things. Thanks to the latest economic and technological sanctions imposed on Russia due to the conflict in Ukraine, the country gives the green light to the legalization of the import of goods regardless of the authorization of copyright holders.

Russian citizens will once again be able to access hardware from AMD, Intel, Apple, Asus, Huawei and others. This is despite the fact that these companies decide they no longer want to supply their products to the heavily sanctioned country.

Russia circumvents sanctions with gray market

Reports indicate that the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade has compiled a list of 50 product groups of more than 200 brands which are now allowed to be sold on the parallel market. Parallel imports are any non-infringing product imported without the permission of the intellectual property owner.

In an effort to stop the bleeding of technology to government infrastructure as well as Russian citizens, the country has added several car brands and spare parts. This is largely due to the fact that the vast majority of automakers have opted to join the anti-Russian sanctions. Companies included in gray imports include Bentley, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Freightliner, GMC, Jaguar, Jeep, Hummer, Kenworth, Land Rover, Mack, Peterbilt, Rover, Skoda, Tesla and Toyota.

Apart from vehicles, smartphones and computers are also among the brands that make it to the list. Companies like Apple, Asus, Samsung, Nokia, Sony and Lenovo have made the difference. Additionally, products such as televisions and game consoles are on the list, along with several accessories. The Russian list also extends to technology-assisted activities, including mining, electricity, rail, agriculture and wood processing.

Create additional problems

“Grey markets” generally operate on weak ground. Those who supply a gray market generally take advantage of price differences by acquiring goods legally or illegally.

The shift to a gray market for some resources is a quick change from the country’s previous stance. Originally, the country followed general copyright laws and called for the destruction of unofficial imported goods. However, as sanctions change, so do ethical boundaries.

Russia could try to circumvent the sanctions. This creates additional problems for companies that no longer wish to do business with the country. People affected by the gray market will certainly be reluctant to file warranty claims on illegally sold products, for example.

Additionally, market importers may find Russian law enforcement knocking on their door for failing to comply with Russian laws dictating the installation of Russian-developed software on electronics. Although there is currently a moratorium on these laws, the country can decide to cancel them.

As Russia continues to struggle with the sanctions imposed due to the invasion of Ukraine, policy shifts will most likely continue to occur. While the United States has recently cracked down on Russian-based cryptocurrency miners, much of Russia’s sanctions-busting strategy is slowly unraveling. As the invasion continues, so will the sanctions against Russia.

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