Closed Down By Russia; Alternative Site Opens, the tiny big site that could, in the end couldn’t, but did it anyway. The music download website whose activities threatened to derail Russia’s entry into the WTO has been shut down by the Russian authorities. But don’t yet rejoice: an alternative site run by the same Moscow company has already emerged. MediaServices says that is legal under Russian law, using many of the same arguments advanced in support of, reports Times UK. The site looks similar and claims to offer thousands of albums by popular artists for around 15 cents per song. consistently claimed to be a legal retailer as it is mandated by Russia’s ROMS royalties collection agency, but that body has been expelled by the international copyright society CISAC and no IFPI member labels have authorized ROMS to sell their music.

Staci adds: Surely it’s just a coincidence that after two years of battles. was closed while Russian President Vladimir V. Putin was winding up a two-day visit in Maine with President George W. Bush.

Moscow Times: “The web site has long been a thorn in relations, and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab sharply warned last fall that it had to be closed before Russia could join the World Trade Organization.” More details about the site’s demise.