Russia grants its security forces right to shoot down ‘unsafe’ drones

Russian lawmakers have voted to grant police and other security services the right to take control of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) remotely or shoot them down if they jeopardize the security of people and infrastructure.

The measure is intended to protect critical infrastructure such as energy, transport, and communications facilities, and secure citizens during mass events, as well as ensuring discretion during anti-terrorist operations and investigative activities.

The legislation, which was passed by the State Duma in the first reading on Wednesday, doesn’t include any new bans or limitations on the use of drones by civilians, its authors clarified. “Our aim is to make the mass operation of UAVs as safe as possible and settle all legal issues regarding it.”

If a drone is shot down by police and injures somebody on the ground “the state will, of course, provide all the needed help,” they said.

The lawmakers said that 160,000 UAVs were purchased by Russians last year, almost doubling their numbers. The unsafe flights of such aircraft have also become more frequent.

Pilots involved in tackling the recent wildfires in Siberia have on many occasions complained about dangerous close encounters with quadcopters, launched by unknown people. “It’s by luck that it didn’t lead to tragic consequences,” MPs said.

Last year, drones, which took to the skies illegally, were spotted above nuclear facilities, restricted cities, and other key infrastructure. Special permission is needed to launch a UAV weighing more than 250 grams, according to the Russian law.