Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has asked Microsoft chairman Bill Gates to intervene in the case of a Russian school principal facing a prison term for buying pirated Windows software for his students, according to a statement.

Alexander Ponosov, head of a school in a small town in the Ural Mountains region of Perm, has been charged with copyright violation after he bought a set of computers for his school containing pirated Windows software. Ponosov denies his guilt, saying he was unaware the software was not licensed.