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Russia tries to revive twice-bumped biometric surveillance net, put it near Ukraine

Russia tries to revive twice-bumped biometric surveillance net, put it near Ukraine

A biometric surveillance system that was only partially built across Russia before being shut down might get a new life thanks to the Ukraine war. It has been pitched as a way to deter and prosecute acts of terrorism.

State officials want to put cameras and other sensors in Crimea and other Russian-controlled areas bordering Ukraine, according to translated coverage by Kommersant. (Russia’s government has biometric plans for finance firms, too.)

Kommersant is owned by Russian metals and mining oligarch Alisher Usmanov.

If the 18-month, 15 billion-ruble (US$279 million) safe city plan is approved, it would be another indication of how long the central government thinks the war will continue. If Ukraine is conquered quickly, as the government has said will happen, there would be no more need for biometric surveillance in surrounding territory than anywhere else in the nation.

But there are numerous international sanctions and bans in place designed to make Russia reverse its announced intention to absorb Ukraine, a notable industrial, cultural and agricultural center in the world. It had previously been ruled by the Soviet Union before that government fell to become the Russian Federation.

The Kommersant story points out that three tech vendors unilaterally decided to stop selling to or in Russia – South Korea’s Samsung and Dell and Intel, both based in the United States. Their absence and that of other hardware and software firms will not make a difference, according to a named Russian official.

Domestic production, warehoused goods previously bought from foreign firms and purchases from Southeast Asian companies would fill the needs, according to the Kommersant article.

Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations in 2014 announced the creation of the Safe City program in 2014, to be operated by conglomerate Rostec (or, Russian Technology). Six years later, preliminary biometric surveillance projects had been launched for 16 billion ($297 million) rubles.

The central government cut its losses when officials asked for another 150 billion rubles ($2.8 billion) to finish the project, according to the article. There was a subsequent unsuccessful attempt to resurrect it in more peaceful times.

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