In the meantime, a recent Russian government action has raised the hackles of some human rights activists. A government resolution, which went into effect on January 1, establishes a procedure to provide the Interior Ministry with the fingerprints of millions of citizens whose prints were previously not registered. The resolution apparently means that fingerprints can be taken from “servicemen, foreigners and stateless persons who apply for refuge or recognition as refugees on Russian territory, persons suspected of a crime, convicts, persons under administrative arrest or those responsible for an administrative misdeed in case it is impossible to identify them in any other way” (Itar-Tass, January 5). A newspaper reported today that the new regulations will require fingerprints from workers with “dangerous or sensitive jobs–such as intelligence officers, pilots, rescue workers and armed forces personnel–and even “mentally disabled people who can’t otherwise identify themselves.” The regulations also recommend “voluntary registration” for persons in other professions, including journalism. Russian law enforcement agencies currently have about 15 million fingerprints on record. The new law would increase that number to 30 million (Moscow Times, January 6).
Sergei Grigoryants, chairman of the Glasnost Public Foundation, called the governmental resolution “an infringement on civil rights” and “an attempt at total surveillance.” He said the new fingerprinting regulations contradict the article of Russia’s constitution prohibiting investigation of a person prior to the issuing of a court order (Moscow Times, January 6).
NORTH CAUCASUS CRIME WAVE ACCOMPANIES CHECHNYA’S POLITICAL STANDOFF.