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Russian authorities have launched a rare criminal prosecution against an alleged spammer.

Igor Gusev, 31, was charged in absentia with running a prolific penis pill (Canadian Pharmacy) spam operation following a police raid on his Moscow home on Tuesday. Gusev is the general director of Despmedia, an alleged partner of Glavmed.com, a key player in the unlicensed prescription drug business reckoned to have raked in $120m over recent years.

Gusev himself allegedly made $2m through the illicit trade by allegedly running a site called SpamIt.com, a website that provided website design and order fulfilment service for spammers until its demise last month.

Spamming isn't illegal as such in Russia, but Gusev has been accused of operating a business without registration. Security observers are taking the prosecution as a sign that Russia may be beginning to clamp down on rogue operators that have tarnished its internet operation for years, as a way of opening up opportunities for legitimate hi-tech firms to make their mark, and as a possible concession to Western concerns that the country has become a safe haven for cybercriminals.

Gusev's lawyer Vadim Kolosov told Reuters that his client intends to contest the charges. "He has no relation to these activities," Kolosov said, adding that his client was out of the country and currently unavailable for comment.

Our earlier report on SpamIT's closure can be found here. A more detailed overview of the business model of the so-called Canadian Pharmacy unlicensed pharmaceuticals-promoted-via-spam business can be found here. ®

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