While the world has been – quite understandably – focused on Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine, the Kremlin’s abuses at home are getting far less attention. They include extensive censorship and a sweeping crackdown on the media, critics, and human rights groups.
Now, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a new law broadly extending compulsory DNA data collection.
The scope of the new legislation is hard to even comprehend: authorities will take DNA from everyone suspected of any crime. The government is now planning to collect DNA from at least 1.8 million people annually.
It will include administrative offences, such as traffic violations, failure to pay a minor fine, and participation in “unauthorized” assemblies (protests). No points for guessing which of these the security services are most interested in…
Previously, authorities generally only took DNA from people convicted of sexual offenses or other grave crimes, although police officers often forced detained activists to submit DNA samples.
Essentially, the new law ramps up Russia’s already massive surveillance system and delivers another blow to the right to privacy. And law enforcement agencies have unrestricted powers to access and use the information in the database without independent oversight.
Russian authorities are not trying hide what they’re doing or the direction they are taking the country in. Discussing the new bill before the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s Federal Assembly, the deputy minister of internal affairs called on lawmakers to embrace the inevitability of total digital control.
The offenders, he said chillingly, “have already shown their disloyalty.”