Moscow, 18 December 2006 – The Russian government has lifted a ban on the use of high-definition images made from space and high-precision positioning systems, news agencies reported on December 18. The move will allow such systems to be used by businesses and by drivers with GPS navigation.
Earlier in November the government had announced that GLONASS would be made available to civilians in the country by 2007, and by 2009 it would be offered to commercial customers worldwide.
Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said regulations needed to implement the decision were already in force, the agencies said. “This is what economy-related ministries have been asking for several years,” Ivanov said.
Until now, global positioning systems capable of locating objects on the ground more precisely than in a radius of 30 meters were formally outlawed for security reasons. Images made from space that locate an object within less than 2 meters were also banned.
The ban was largely ignored because Western GPS devices were used in Russia, and high-precision pictures, needed for companies dealing in construction, mining and other sectors, were already on the market and widely used.
“This [lifting of the limitations] will allow consumers to use space-based navigation systems equipment,” Ivanov said. He also said that now that the limitations have been removed, Russia would be able to bring into the commercial market its own global positioning system known as Glonass, currently used only by the military.