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Russian police use digital technology against protesters

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Georgy Malets did not attend an anti-Kremlin rally last month, but Russian police arrested him on his way there using facial recognition technology in the Moscow metro.

The 30-year-old Russian photo blogger said: The Russian police told him that he was identified by the Face ID camera system, and he must accompany them to the police station for examination.

Malets added Agency Reuters: I could see they had some kind of picture, but it wasn’t from cameras, it was a picture from my social media account.

He said: He was interrogated for four hours as a witness in a criminal case, the Russian police said: It had been opened in previous marches, so he was absent from the January 31 protest.

But reports from other protesters who have attended rallies in recent weeks in support of imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny also indicate that the police are using facial recognition technology to make preventive arrests and detentions.

A law enforcement source told TASS news agency: The technology used the images stored in a database of ordinary protesters, and human rights defenders expressed concern about the use of surveillance systems for this purpose.

Samariddin Radzhabov, who was tried for throwing a plastic bottle at a police officer in 2019, said: He was also detained in the metro before the January 31 rally and then released.

Ekaterina Schulmann said that her husband, Mikhail, was arrested after entering the Moscow metro following a protest.

She explained to Reuters that the Russian police said: that he was stopped due to the reaction of controlling the face and that he must go to an investigator as a witness in some kind of criminal case.

She added that three others were identified in the police station, to which he was transferred using facial recognition technology.

The Moscow mayor’s office announced that it was rolling out a facial recognition system in the metro to spot wanted criminals in 2018, when Russia hosted the FIFA World Cup.

There are now surveillance cameras all over Moscow, and“There is still a lot of information we don’t know about the facial recognition system in Moscow,” Kirill Koroteev, a lawyer with the human rights organization Agora, said.

Sarkis Darbinyan, a defender of internet freedom, said: They said at first: The system is used to find missing children and escaped convicts, and then they used it to monitor self-isolation during the epidemic, and it is now used to monitor protests and activists.

The Kremlin defended the police against accusations of disproportionate force, saying the protests were illegal because they were not approved and could spread the coronavirus.

Several years ago, protesters used social media to coordinate rallies, and now they have a smartphone app that allows them to easily obtain a lawyer. If they are detained, As its founder, Kaloy Akhilgov says.

Advocall includes a panic button to summon a lawyer, contacts for lawyers, and instructions on how to act in the event of detention or interrogation.

Akhilgov, who runs a law firm, said his attorneys are working for free to help protesters if needed, and that about 4,600 people downloaded the app, and more than 300 legal aid requests were received through the app.

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