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Russia set to take fingerprints from all arriving foreigners

January 24, 2014, 15:55 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Metzel

MOSCOW, January 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Dactyloscopic tests may become compulsory for receiving Russian entry visas. The Russian Foreign Ministry proposes to take fingerprints from all foreigners arriving in the country to process their entry visas, starting from July 2014.

The country’s foreign political agency has drafted a presidential decree on taking biometric personal data of foreigners or stateless people for the issue of Russian entry visas. The decree was posted at a portal disclosing information about drafting of legal acts on Thursday.

It proposes “to introduce scanning of papillary pictures of ten fingers of foreign citizens or stateless people in processing their entry visas in Russia from July 1, 2014.”

The ministry will implement a pilot project before the start date. To test the system, four countries were chosen for a pilot project of taking fingerprints at Russian diplomatic offices and consular departments: Great Britain, Denmark, Myanmar and Namibia.

“Experience of the United States and Great Britain in fingerprint scanning to process entry visas was taken into account in development of the presidential decree,” the explanatory note to the decree said.

Taking of fingerprints “will help make the work of law enforcement agencies more effective, particularly to combat illegal migration and prevent suspects in terrorism from arriving in Russia,” and “will help take timely reciprocal measures as obligatory fingerprinting procedure is planned to be introduced by EU states for Russian visa applicants in 2015.”

Meanwhile, around 8,000 Russians have already received foreign travel passports with fingerprints, head of the department for residence registration and passport issuance of the Federal Migration Service Alexander Aksenov said. He recalled that the country will pass to the European model of foreign travel passports with scanned fingerprint data recorded in the chip from 2015.

Russian authorities note that a common dactyloscopic database is a matter not only of security for Russian citizens if foreigners commit offences, but also to meet the needs of people entering the country. As foreign citizens often lose their identity documents and have to pass through a long procedure to restore them, a dactyloscopic database will help indentify more quickly those who have lost their documents, injured parties and offenders.

Since January 1, 2013, Russia has put into practice compulsory fingerprinting for some categories of foreign citizens. These are those who are subject to deportation from Russia, those who arrived in Russia in search of asylum or those who received temporary residence permits. But first of all, this measure concerns those who want to obtain a work permit in Russia. This procedure is in effect for citizens from post-Soviet republics seeking a job in Russia. Tourists, people who enter the country on business or to visit relatives should not have taken dactyloscopic tests yet.

Some experts believe that the measures proposed will not bring a visa-free regime between Russia and the European Union closer as many obstacles stand in the way of attaining it.

Fingerprinting tests on EU citizens may delay settlement of this issue, Novye Izvestia daily quoted political expert Mikhail Korostikov as saying. Meanwhile, this measure will hardly protect Russia from terrorists because “Russian citizens commit most terrorist acts,” he says.

Chief editor of the website Andrey Soldatov believes that foreigners arriving in Russia are under sufficient control “due to very tough Russian visa rules.” Meanwhile, “most people living abroad have biometric passports so all this data is already put in them,” he said live on radio station Finam FM.


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