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Face To The City: How Moscow’s Surveillance System Works

Face To The City: How Moscow’s Surveillance System Works
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During demonstrations in Moscow this summer, unmarked white vans were seen at major intersections across the Russian capital. Protruding from their roofs were large antennas bearing clusters of video surveillance cameras.

Vyacheslav Abanichev, whose son, Sergei, faced eight years in prison for throwing a paper cup into the air at an unauthorized July 27 protest, believes that these cameras’ facial-recognition capabilities enabled police to track down and detain his son. The younger Abanichev was released from prison this month.

The local elections that sparked the protests may now be over, but the Moscow mayor's office is preparing for other large-scale events. It recently signed a contract worth $4 million with a private Russian company for the further development of the city’s camera surveillance systems.

What that could mean for ordinary citizens’ civil rights concerns many Russians. But one Yandex search-engine technologist notes that, ultimately, these cameras could act as a check on the police themselves.

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