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Russia: Government Invests in Enhanced Surveillance

(Feb. 3, 2011) On January 28, 2011, Russian media outlets reported that on January 11, 2011, the government had issued a resolution approving a two-year program of investing in high technology in the field of security. The program, which was recommended by the President's Commission on Modernization and Technological Development, entrusts the Federal Security Service (FSS, formerly the KGB) (Federalnaia slushba bezopasnosti, or FSB, in Russian) with the responsibility of spending RUB633 million (approximately US$30 million) in order to develop methods and equipment for advanced surveillance. (FSB Poluchila Milliony na Proslushku Got Millions for Surveillance [in Russian], GAZETA.RU (Jan. 28, 2011),

The program consists of two parts: voice biometrics, which is focused on voice synthesis and identification and better understanding of vocal messages transmitted by technical means; and automatic video recognition aimed at mechanical discerning of targets in real time. A database of targets, associated personal images, and identified voices must be created by 2012. Placing the FSS in charge of this program was viewed by Russian commentators as a further expansion of this secret service's authority, in line with allowing it to conduct independent genetic analysis of remains allegedly belonging to terrorists and of those who have been identified as relatives of terrorists (id.). At present, independent forensic centers are performing these tasks. A relevant amendment to the FSS Law was introduced in the State Duma. (Bill No. 493009-5 (submitted on Jan. 27, 2011) [in Russian], State Duma website, (last visited Feb. 2, 2011).)