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Russia makes policy to declassify large-scale maps, hide secret sites - agency

Moscow, 18 July: The government of the Russian Federation has decided on the principles of lifting excessive secrecy in the definition of the coordinates of sites on maps.

The deputy director of the relevant department of the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, Andrey Ivakin, has told Interfax that government agencies have agreed to switch to site-by-site protection.

"The idea is to lift all restrictions on the precision of coordinates and the use of maps covering certain areas and to switch to site-by-site protection," he said.

Corresponding norms are written into the federal bill "On the state land register", which has been drafted by the ministry and has already been introduced to the State Duma by the cabinet.

It was reported earlier that lifting high secrecy in defining the geographical coordinates of a site is an important issue for creating a register of properties. The legal requirements currently in effect state that the boundaries of any site must not be definable to an accuracy of less than 30 m. However, greater accuracy is required to make a register.

"Currently site protection is provided by a set of restrictions on open dissemination of cartographic materials, aerial imagery and space imagery and by a ban on precisely definable coordinates," Ivakin said.

In future, [secret] sites will be protected in a variety of ways: by disguise (where a neutral site is mapped in place of the protected one) and by "jammers" (where the GPS receiver will be unable to fix the coordinates in the vicinity of the site).

Restrictions on fixing the coordinates of [all] the other sites will be lifted, Ivakin said.