Source Pravda.Ru

Russia may have biometric passports in 2 years

Passports with biometric information may appear in Russia in 2006, Colonel General Alexander Chekalin, the deputy interior minister, said at a press conference on Monday.

"The government will decide whether to adopt a new generation of foreign passports with biometric information in the second half of 2005 so that they can be put in circulation in early 2006," Gen. Chekalin said.

What kind of biometric information will be contained in the new passports has not been decided yet, he said.

He said that it might be "a fingerprint chip, or several fingers, and the owner's digital photo."

In any case, decision will be coordinated at the international level, he added.

The introduction of biometric information to Russian passports is the result of a G8 decision because of the threat of terrorism and illegal migration.

Gen. Chekalin did not rule out that biometric information would later be added to domestic passports.

"As an official I would recommend high officials and my colleagues to have biometric parameters in their domestic passports," Gen. Chekalin said.

He noted that there is neither an acute need, nor material backing for such innovations.

Foreigners and stateless people registered in Russia may use Soviet passports from 1974 until January 1, 2006, the general said.

Others who have not changed their passports before July 1, 2004 will "have problems in exercising their civil rights and be fined."

The Russian Interior Ministry has prepared a draft law simplifying the temporary registration procedure. If the draft law becomes law, the registration procedure will take one day, Gen. Chekalin said.

"This draft protects the constitutional rights of Russian and foreign nations," he continued.

Under the draft, the registration application will be filed by the owner of the residence, or a responsible tenant willing to register the person in his apartment, directly in a police station.

"There will be no more need to apply to the housing and public utilities bodies, which saves time," Gen. Chekalin explained.

He also noted that, according to the new law, the entire responsibility for trustworthy information will rest with the owner of the residence or the responsible tenant. Therefore, relative amendments to the Russian code on administrative offenses will have to be made.