Russia to Issue First Biometric Passports This Year

MOSCOW, -- Russia will start issuing first foreign travel passport with biometric data later this year, director general of the Goznak mint, banknote and security printer Arkady Trachuk told reporters on Monday.

The pilot project will be launched in the Leningrad region. The new passport will contain a microchip with biometric data, including fingerprints, a plastic page with personal info, and a black and white photo /a color photo will be saved in the microchip/, according to PRIME-TASS.

Trachuk said everything was ready to begin the printing of new foreign passports. "I think it will conform to best foreign analogs, and even surpass them in some ways," he stated.

Fake documents mostly appear because of thefts at bodies issuing them. For example, 95 percent of car logs in illegal turnover were printed on stolen forms or the forms subject for scrapping.

The situation with certificates of education or college diplomas is the same, he said.

"A range of documents cannot be forged because of their degree of protection, especially if they are piece documents; but these documents can be stolen.

Trachuk underlined that the record-keeping system at the Goznak companies is faultless, ruling out a theft of documents or their parts.

There are no loopholes in the security system; it is impossible to steal even one page unless one assumes a total collusion between a dozen personnel, Trachuk said.

He expressed regret over the fact that law-enforcement bodies had not been making significant efforts to stop the theft of forms of the protected documents.

(c) 2005 Itar-Tass