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The Russia Studies Program
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Highlights of Issue 28

  • Putin once again calls for protection of personal data, while proposed government efforts to study social media may run counter to personal data protection laws.
  • "Spy stones" and self-landing helicopters are in the military's future.
  • Rostec seeks to build software to predict the probability of riots and public protests.
  • Russian officials announce increased investment into artificial intelligence education through funding new programs and tuition-free spots for students.
  • A Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology addition to the US Commerce Department Military End User List results in outcry in Russian media and among university officials.

Governance and Legal Developments

1. Putin again stresses the importance of personal data protection

In a November 30 plenary of an investment forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of personal data protection, saying, "It is necessary to determine the correct model for working with large amounts of information, based on the unconditional protection of the security of personal data. In general, if you look more broadly-the rights and freedoms of citizens." This statement echoes Putin's remarks on November 12 at the AI Journey conference, where he discussed the importance of improving access to large datasets and of securing the personal data of Russian citizens. (Please see issue 27 of AI in Russia for a recap of those remarks.)

At this November 30 event, Putin further stated that "Russia is already one of the global leaders in the use of digital services and the development of AI technologies. At the same time, we are well aware that it is important to ensure the balanced development of digital ecosystems, to define the role of financial institutions. Let me remind you that such ecosystems are built around a person and around his so-called digital profile." As discussed in past issues, Putin is relying on digital transformation to push the development of the Russian economy as well as increase labor productivity and wages.

Separately, the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media has made public an order directing that any personal data acquired as part of an experimental legal regime should be destroyed within a week, and that outlines timelines and procedures for the destruction of this previously anonymized information. (See past issues of AI in Russia about experimental legal regimes or so-called "digital sandboxes" in Russia.)

Sources: "Putin demands unconditional personal data protection during digitization" [Путин

потребовал обеспечить безусловную защиту персональных данных при цифровизации], TASS, November 30, 2021,; Order of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media from Sep 29, 2021 N1015 "On the approval of the procedure for the destruction of personal data obtained as a result of depersonalization by the subject of the experimental legal regime in the field of digital innovations in the event of termination of the status of the subject of the experimental legal regime" (registered Nov 29, 2021, N66042) in Russian],, November 29, 2021,

2. Efforts to analyze social media could run counter to personal data protection laws

The Russian government is interested in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the psychological state of Russians based on their social network activity, according to Kommersant newspaper. Reporters found information on the government tender website suggesting that the Analytical Center of the Russian Government is working with the Ivanov Institute of Systemic Programming to find partners for this work in 2024. The Analytical Center told the paper that the intent is also to create a "trusted technology to diagnose personality types" to, among other goals, "recognize the manipulative command of large social group, assessment of creative potential of employees, and modeling of their professional development." The effort is reportedly broadly intended to counter terrorism, extremism, and significant public discord. Kommersant quoted legal experts as saying that this proposal could run counter to recent Russian laws on the protection of personal data that require individuals to consent to such use of their data.

Source: Nikita Korolyov, "Government officials are dreaming of electric sheep" [Чиновникам приснились электроовцы], Kommersant, November 29, 2021, https://

3. Ministry of Industry and Trade studies AI development priorities

As part of a sprawling Russian government funding effort, Russia's Ministry of Industry and Trade commissioned a study to help determine levels of government support for the development of AI technologies. The study found that computer vision, speech analysis and processing, and intelligent recommendation and decision support tools were the three priority areas in which investment could be fruitful. The study authors also proposed viewing companies as the primary consumers of AI technologies, recommended the employment of cloud computing and edge computing, and pointed to promising Russian processor developers who could be employed to develop AI systems.

Source: "Russia is developing priorities for AI development" [В России расставлены приоритеты по развитию искусственного интеллекта], 3D News, December 3, 2021, intellekta.

4. Article assesses government grants facilitated by the Innovation Support Fund

Russia's Innovation Support Fund has funded more than 700 Russian AI projects, according to a report, and has initiated a large-scale government-funded grant support program in 2021 as part of the AI federal project. This support, intended to progressively increase to at least the year 2024, is aimed at various types of AI developers, including small teams, startups, medium- sized firms, and others with AI projects in various stages of development. The report also mentions some of the tools supported through such grants, including an AI-based tool for analyzing the spine developed by a medical center for orthopedics and prosthetics, a "Smart Field" application that assesses crop growth progress via satellite imagery and proposes approaches to yield increases, and distance learning tools individualized for students. The fund has also supported numerous companies working with large audio and video datasets.

Sources: "Talking city and smart field. What kind of AI is supporting the state and who needs it" [«Говорящий город» и «Умное поле». Какой искусственный интеллект поддерживает государство и кому это нужно], Sekret firmy, November 26, 2021, iskusstvennyi-intellekt-podderzhivaet-gosudarstvo-i-komu-eto-nuzhno.htm.

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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited. 12/20/2021

This work was performed under Federal Government Contract No. N00014-16-D-5003.


  • Pages: 24
  • Document Number: DOP-2021-U-031472-Final
  • Publication Date: 12/17/2021
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