The image quality of these cameras not only made it possible to make out the cars’ number plates (Potok Complex) but even to identify people (through a system of facial recognition of individuals among a crowd “face-control). Anything that the camera couldn’t pick up was recorded by the OKO-1 dirigible, which carries out video-obervation from heights of 200-300 meters, thanks to high-tech facial and car-registration plate recognition systems.
Agentura describes how the programme is used not only to ‘cut crime’, but also to counter social activists. It describes how the system was used against activists during the G8 summit in St Petersburg in 2006.
Since 2005 the Russain states has started to integrate all police databases on the federal and regional level
into one system, which could be accessed federally and locally. The
project was due to be completed by 2011 and a lot of work has been done
on it to date. According to the head of the Organisational Methodology
Department in charge of this programme, Lieutenant Berdnik, the
transport network for the communication and transfer of data from 152
sub-departments of the Ministry of the Interior – Federal level, 1,067
subdivisions of the Ministry of the Interior – Constituent Entity level,
910 at the regional centre level, and 1,250 at regional level, was
created between 2005 and 2008. The database links in with the Internal
Forces of the Ministry of the Interior’s communications systems and
gives policemen access to “public and special federal information and
Thus, the Ministry of the Interior gained
information not only information about criminals, but also about
ordinary members of the public. For example, by 2006 both federal and
regional Automated Dialog Publishing System comprised about 32 million
fingerprint records. After this modernization system had been
implemented – in 2008 – this number was 71 million. Of course there is
no way there could be that many criminals in Russia, but in recent years
nearly everyone who is detained at a protest is photographed and
fingerprinted by the police. The Ministry of the Interior say that in
2009 due to these new technological developments, law enforcement
officials “thanks to special complexes have been able to identify people
through fingerprints in real-time and get yes or no answers, thanks in
part to information in the ADIS system.”
The fundamental idea behind developing these programmes is to create a single information space, where the investigator has instant access to all kinds of information about a person, be it in audio, video, photo, fingerprint, biometric or document form. It is thus possible to build up, rapidly, an interactive dossier on any individual from any part of the country, identifying them using any feature.
It is clear how these newfound capabilities could all be used against social activists, the routes of their marches are covered by CCTV, their leaders are identified thanks to the help of this instant image search through the database, and information is distributed to groups within the Ministry of Interior, for them to act on.
Similarly, those who do make it to the demonstration venue will come immediately under surveillance from plain clothes policemen but also this dirgible-mounted camera directed by a KAMAZ vehicle parked round the corner (that’s how the OKO-1 system works). In addition, participants from out of town, who might head from the protest to their friends’ flats, will be picked up by the local police, who, thanks to this mega-database, will be able to identify their target’s circle of friends in any specific city.