Fili Park Has All the Bootlegs

1998 > Russia

You think we pay full price for CD’s in Russia? Ha!

This past weekend was my first, and last, weekend in
February where I wasn’t zipping off someplace. I was so happy to be able
to chill in my apartment for the first time. After I spent Saturday
afternoon cleaning my apartment, I was bored. Time to hit the streets!

I grabbed my new flatmate, Arthur, and we went to the CD rinok at
Fili Park. The CD rinok is an open air market selling all types of
music, computer games, movies, and related items at the fraction of the
cost normally paid. Brand new CD titles are $4 and older titles are
$1.50, with movies similarly priced. First-timers and even old
salts like myself, usually get Fili-itis when we go there, grabbing
fistfuls of CD cuz they are so cheap. The sellers of such highly prized,
yet cheaply sold items are an interesting lot.

Years ago, when there weren’t any music stores, audiophiles would
gather in Fili Park and trade music under the cover of darkness and
foliage. After 1991, the selling came out in the open. When I first went
to the rinok in 1996, each vendor had their own table, sometimes with a
tent, that they sold CD’s, tapes, and VCR movies from. As you might
expect from the cheap prices, the original producers of the merchandise
were not receiving royalties form these independent operators. All the
CD’s in Fili park are pirated copies from Hungary and other Eastern
European outlets, though now the sellers will not admit to this. The
illegality made the sellers back then a rough and independent group. The
police would raid the park if they were not paid off on time, so going
there was a bit tricky. Once I was there when the police raided
the park, that was an ugly scene! People running ever which way,
trying to grab CD’s before the police grabbed them.

Yesterday I noted a significant change. Not only did each vendor have
the exact same tent, each tent had a permit attached to the side. Seems
Fili Park is going upscale. Now they are regulated, orderly, and the
vendors are becoming more genteel. I even heard one use pleasantries
instead of defamations when a customer dropped a CD in the mud. I hope
the prices don’t escalate with this new respectability!