Authorities have introduced expanded digital personalization and surveillance measures in the Russian capital, Moscow, using the concerns about the ‘second wave’ of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Starting October 5, under a decree of Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin, local businesses will have to transfer 30% of their employees to remote work through October 28. Data must be provided from October 12 in accordance with the attached list with the following columns: “Mobile phone number”, “State registration number of the vehicle”, “Troika electronic card number”, “Strelka electronic card number”, “Social card number” and “Number of a monthly pass without a limit”. The decree also demands workers over the age of 65 and those suffering from chronic diseases to work remotely. The new rules do not affect workers at medical institutions, defense agencies, Rosatom and Roscosmos.
The previous demand from citizens to provide their numbers of transport cards and cars was released during the April-May coronavirus lockdown to obtain permission to move across the city. The new rules require even more personal data from citizens that would be stored and processed by the local authorities to impose lockdown-like rules. Meanwhile, it was announced that Moscow’s schools will take a two-week vacation in the period from October 5 to October 18 under the same pretext: the supposed increase of coronavirus cases.
It should be noted that since July 1, Moscow has been conducting some 5-year long ‘digital experiment’ for the development of artificial intelligence with the participation of large IT companies. The real purpose of the experiment remains unrevealed, but all residents of the city have de-facto become it participants without their own will.
According to available data, it seems that the Sobyanin team is now expanding this ‘digital experiment’ using the COVID-19 threat. In the best traditions of the overtone window technique, the Moscow mayor’s office insists that it has every right to completely personalize an individual resident of Moscow and have all the data that will monitor, prohibit or restrict any economic or social activity of residents of the region.
Amid the wave of violence (like the Armenian-Azerbaijani war) and unrest (the crisis in Belarus), which erupted in a close proximity to Russian borders in the previous months, such actions of the Sobyanin team could be interpreted as an attempt to increase social tensions in the Russian capital. This is possible if one assumes that Sobyanin’s inner circle is affiliated with pro-Western forces who decided to complete the scenario that they pushed started in the spring. It is a well-known fact that McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group, both Anglo-American firms, are closely cooperating with Moscow authorities and provide them with various services.
In the spring and summer of 2020, many scientists, epidemiologists and virologists predicted the traditional annual increase of the number of respiratory viral infections, including those caused by coronavirus, in October. As of now, at least in some cases, this expected and traditional increase is being presented as the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. According to experts, while the COVID-19 remains a problem, it is unlikely that the development of coronavirus vaccines and the employment of new methods of dealing with coronavirus will allow to avoid seasonal increases in respiratory viral infections. For example, the seasonal flue remains a permanent factor of the daily life despite all the efforts against it. Therefore, the introduction of new limitations and lockdown-like measures every time ‘flue season’ remains at least a questionable idea, if one does not pursue some particular goals with such moves.