“Hands are cold, and everything is fine. Now it's a little warmer. I sit in the morning and will sit until the evening, ”says Leonid. He introduces himself as an employee of the private security company "KARAT-C". His workplace is on the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge. A thermos of tea, an extension cord with an outlet to charge your phone, and a folding chair overlooking the Senate Palace, which was damaged by a drone attack.
The drone attack took place on the night of May 3-4. Judging by the video that appeared on social networks, the first drone flew over the Senate Palace at about 2:27, after which the roof of the palace caught fire. 16 minutes later, a second drone flew over the Kremlin, it exploded in the same place, over the roof of the Senate Palace, and fell nearby. Residents of the center of the capital wrote that they heard the sounds of explosions and saw sparks in the sky. According to them, the illumination of the Kremlin and the Kremlin embankment was turned off. The attack on the Kremlin was the reason for increased security measures in Moscow. After that, Leonid took up duty.
“Whether there is any danger, I don’t know, let’s hope not. So far, everything is fine, ”Leonid answers the question of whether he is afraid to be on duty at the place of flight of drones in the center of Moscow.
Previously, the private security company "KARAT-Ts" ensured the safety of the stars of the first magnitude, who came on tour to Russia. His services were used by Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Madonna and many others. Russia's invasion of Ukraine put an end to the tour of most of the world's artists. And the elite guards were involved in monitoring the Senate Palace. They pay, according to Leonid, for monitoring the Kremlin “very well”, how much the Kremlin itself pays the private security company for this is unknown. The duty was scheduled until May 9 and on Victory Day itself. Soon they will most likely end: apparently, it is no longer necessary to protect Muscovites after the Victory Parade, unless, of course, something out of the ordinary happens, Leonid argues.
"Attics are being welded, basements are sealed"
“We were given a slingshot. To shoot down if some kind of drone flies, ”a man in Mosgaz overalls jokes. Together with his colleague, he guards gas control point No. 47 at the Avtozavodskaya MCC station. The need to be on duty on May 7 and 9 was announced by the leadership. Explained: it is required to monitor the sky and the area around for suspicious people and objects, primarily drones and their operators. If found, take a photo and report to the police.
“We have a facility, we are on duty for 8 hours. Of course, we are changing, now my shift has arrived, ”the man says. According to him, unlike other GBUs, they don’t need to go around the yards, they only guard the Mosgaz point.
At the opposite exit from Avtozavodskaya, there are vigilantes with red armbands on their sleeves. In the yards, here and there, people in overalls, yellow or orange vests appear. Employees of schools and kindergartens were also involved in patrolling. The topic has become one of the main ones in regional chats.
“Everyone is on the ears. They are on duty, looking at the sky and under their feet, ”said one of the employees of the local kindergarten in the chat of the Maryino district. - At school, bypass with flashlights, a security guard and an employee - every hour for 25 minutes. The attics are being welded, the basements are sealed.
The color of the vest depends on the organization - patrolmen must be in working uniform. Some Telegram channels wrote that they needed to be on duty from 17:00 to 01:00, but state employees interviewed by The Insider said they began patrolling the streets from early morning.
“We follow everything suspicious. If we see a drone, we call the police. There were no drones yet. But you are very suspicious!” - an employee of the GAU "MoszhilNIIproekt" Boris is on duty in the Pechatniki district. The bright yellow vest can be seen from afar. The institution is engaged in the design, overhaul and reconstruction of residential and non-residential stock in Moscow. According to Boris, they are on duty all day, for 12 hours. They go in twos. It was possible to refuse, but everyone agreed: the management promised to pay double the duty, since this is considered work on a day off.
Employees from the State Budgetary Institution "Zhilischnik" were less fortunate - no one plans to compensate them for their duty.
"How are you on duty? Hungry and cold! And we still have six hours to walk here, ”says Andrei, an employee of the Zhilishchnik in the Pechatniki district. Together with his partner, he went to a stall on Shosseynaya Street to buy shawarma, and at the same time to warm up. The May holidays in Moscow turned out to be cold: at night the temperature drops to -1, and Pechatnikov Andrey will have to guard the sky until late in the evening.
“No one is going to pay us for this. It's a pity, because today we actually have a day off. You can't refuse. Well, only if there is a very good reason, ”complains the source of The Insider. According to Andrei, nothing suspicious was noticed in the area, “except for alcoholics,” as well as a huge flock of pigeons near the local Pyaterochka, which were fed by local residents.
“Flying rats, no biolabs are needed here,” says Boris, hinting at the Russian Defense Ministry’s fake about joint experiments between Kyiv and Washington to create biological weapons using birds.
Other Zhilischnik employees told The Insider that they are being compensated for their shifts with time off, but some doubt this will happen. But almost none of the state employees questioned doubted that the authorities would adopt the practice of free duty and use it every holiday.
18 hour shift without days off
"Very cold. We were taken out at three in the morning, brought back at half past three, and have been on duty here ever since. They threw us across the bridges,” says the trembling Gulnara. She came from Kyrgyzstan, received Russian citizenship and now works at the Gormost State Budgetary Institution. The management sent her to the Moskvorechye-Saburovo area, where a flyover is being built across the Kashirskoye Highway and the infamous radioactive waste dump of the Moscow Polymetal Plant. This is a part of the South-East Chord, which has not yet been built, but the watch is already underway.
The conditions in which Gulnara works can hardly be called human. Her shift lasts 18 hours. All this time she must spend on the street, looking out for suspicious people and objects, in particular drones in the sky. What they look like, she was told in general terms. There will be four days on duty in this mode: May 2, May 4, May 7 and on Victory Day. Gulnara is afraid to be photographed: “They will punish me more, but I have to stand on the bridge all the time! And I went downstairs to eat and warm up.”
Whether there will be monetary compensation, she does not know, they will not give days off either.
"What vacations? We arrive after duty, they drive us to work in our area right away!” Gulnara is outraged.
A similar situation is in the State Budgetary Institution Avtodor — its employee Aleksey is on duty not far from Gulnara. True, there are more benign conditions here: a 14-hour working day within the framework of the shift, from 6:00 to 20:00. He is counted as a worker, just instead of his usual duties, Alexei has to look out for drones.
“We have shift work. What are the possible breaks here? And who will work? Alexei argues. It was expected that an employee of the council should coordinate it. But the phone they gave him turned out to be wrong - Alexei never managed to get through to her. He himself lives in the Shabolovskaya area. There, according to him, the residents organized themselves into initiative groups and are also on duty until one in the morning.
While we are standing with the duty officers in Moskvorechye-Saburovo, two more men in orange vests walk by. “This is the 47th bridge team,” says Alexei. - They differ from duty officers only by the presence of a helmet. And they don't look up."
Voluntary protection of radioactive waste
“I have a child and then walks with binoculars, looks out! - a resident of the Moskvorechye-Saburovo district Svetlana (name changed) nods towards her son. “I myself began to look at the sky more often.”
Some enterprising Muscovites themselves were ready to patrol, free of charge and voluntarily, but the paradox is that they were the ones who were not allowed to make rounds, considering them “too active”. This happened in Moskvorechye-Saburovo, where in 2019-2020 there were mass protests against the construction of the South-Eastern Expressway through the radioactive waste dump of the Moscow Polymetal Plant (MZP). Locals simply call this place “slope”: it is a steep bank of the Moskva River, where, according to Rospotrebnadzor, up to 60,000 tons of radioactive waste and radioactively contaminated soil are located.
“If something arrives there, it will bang so much that it will not seem enough to the whole of Moscow,” explains local resident Svetlana. Residential buildings are located about 200 meters from the "slope", so the residents took the duty seriously. In addition, in addition to the MZP, on the territory of which the decontamination of radioactive waste was previously carried out, several enterprises of the nuclear sector are located in Moskvorechye-Saburovo, in particular VNIIKhT and MEPhI.
Svetlana and Natalya volunteered to be on duty after the district government asked the local Public Police Station (OPOP) to assist and find those willing to track down drones, control attics, basements, and perform “other assigned tasks in connection with the NWO.” Employees of the council and the State Budgetary Institution "Zhilischnik" at first agreed, appointed the time and day - May 7th. But on the evening of May 6, everything was suddenly canceled, saying that they did not need the services of activists and that no one would be on duty at all - they would just take a couple of photos for the report.
“An employee of the council, with whom I discussed the duty, called me and said that it was not necessary to patrol tomorrow. That at 5 in the morning she will arrive at the police department, then she will meet an employee from the State Budgetary Institution Zhilischnik, together they will take a photo for the report and go home, ”says Svetlana. “But we were going to be on duty for real, in good faith!”
Svetlana was indignant, after which she received a call from the council again and was told that those who wanted to patrol “are not on the lists”, the head of the OBOR allegedly does not know them and, in general, activists are not needed there.
“The fact is that we want to work, and they want to take pictures and go home. They are afraid that we will control them. The council thought that we were the same, but we are from a different opera. We stand for honesty and integrity. They, apparently, were afraid of us, ”Natalya complains.
Despite the conflict with the council, the women still went on duty.
“We even bought armbands. Red. But we were told - do not wear it, they will regard it somehow wrong, and it will end badly for us. Now, after all, anything can be attributed, ”says Svetlana.
Stars, toys and the planet Venus
After the introduction of anti-sabotage "duty officers", the number of reports about drones over Moscow increased tenfold, the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel reports. According to his source, only in a day the police recorded more than 200 messages, police officers simply cannot process such a number. At the same time, most of the statements are vague and have nothing to do with UAVs. Janitors, employees of the State Budgetary Institution and Administration do not know what a real drone looks like, and declare everything that seems suspicious to them. According to the channel, a junction box at a high-rise facility, stars, and children's toys were taken for a UAV.
“You can confuse an airplane and a drone. And get a fine for what you mixed up, - says an employee of the State Budgetary Institution Zhilischnik from the Pechatniki district. — Many stars take pictures and report. Everyone is heading to Venus, this planet is very bright right now.”
Of the confirmed UAVs, most turn out to be service quadrocopters that belong to the DGI, Russian Railways, surveyors and the Ministry of Emergency Situations. You can run them.
The total losses from the ban on drone flights in Moscow, the Moscow region and St. Petersburg alone could amount to about 1.5 billion rubles if the ban lasts until the end of the year. And the material damage from the ban in 40 regions is estimated at 10 billion rubles, says Nikita Danilov, CEO of Fly Dron.
A complete ban on the use of UAVs in Russia could roll back the market to the level of 2018, experts believe. This measure is ineffective and not able to provide security. Moreover, it is often civilian drones that make it possible to notice a crime, such as mining railroad tracks. On the other hand, you can raise an explosive device on a copter, which is very reminiscent of a civilian one. It is not yet known what the Moscow City Hall will do after May 9. One thing is clear: the fate of civil unmanned aircraft in Russia will largely depend on the development of events in Ukraine.
How else in Russia are fighting drones
Another measure to combat drones, which the Moscow authorities took immediately after the attack on the Kremlin, is posting announcements banning the launch of quadrocopters. Printed out on A4 sheet, warnings about the inadmissibility of using UAVs were hastily posted all over Moscow - on entrances, poles, trash cans, in parks and playgrounds. Black-and-white printouts showed what the drones looked like, and called for mandatory reporting if drones or their operators were found.
Similar signs appeared earlier in the Zaryadye park near Red Square - from there you can clearly see the Kremlin and, in particular, the Senate Palace. Ads with a crossed out drone say you are in a no-fly zone. They also talk about the measures of responsibility for launching a copter - in accordance with Art. 11.4 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation is a fine of up to 50 thousand rubles for individuals and up to 300 thousand rubles for companies.
However, the copter operator may face criminal liability under Art. 271.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation "Violation of the rules for the use of the airspace of the Russian Federation." This is up to five years in prison under part 1 and up to seven years under part 2. It is known that at the end of April a criminal case was opened against a man who launched a drone in the south-west of Moscow, although it was not specified under which article. If law enforcement agencies consider that the launch of the UAV was carried out to search for information in the interests of a foreign state, then the case may be initiated under the article on treason or espionage.
In addition, the police can seize a quadcopter for “checking” even if it is a popular civilian model, and it can be difficult to return it if it is not properly registered or there are problems with documents.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there were regular reports of drone strikes or crashes on Russian territory, but cases increased in late April. On the night of May 4, drones attacked oil refineries in the Krasnodar Territory and the Rostov Region. And after the drone attack on the Kremlin, OMON officers assigned to duty in the Central Administrative District were given binoculars, Baza wrote . Fearing, apparently, another drone attack during the Victory Day parade, the Moscow authorities “put down” navigation as well. In the central districts of the capital, GPS was massively denied. Car sharing services reported that it was impossible to take a car or complete a trip in the center, you could only suspend it. In neighboring areas, it was possible to book a car, but often it was not possible to find it: the car was not available in the place where the application showed it. Searches in neighboring yards yielded nothing, and the reservation had to be cancelled. On the map in the car sharing application, they “floated” in the Moscow River. It was the same with electric scooters: it was not easy to rent them.
Errors in determining the geolocation were reported by Yandex, GLONASS, Belka Kar, Citydrive, as well as users of Whoosh and Citymobil.
The Russian authorities began to suppress satellite navigation in the regions since the end of February, when the number of attacks in the subjects increased. From the data of the GPSJam resource, which monitors interference for navigation signals, it followed that suppression appeared around Moscow, in several regions of the Volga region, in the Volgograd and Smolensk regions. By the beginning of March, the GPS jamming zone had expanded to Ivanovo, Vladimir and Yaroslavl regions. By mid-April - to Ryazan, Kaluga and Tver. Strong interference also arose on the territory of the Samara region, as well as in the Volgograd and Saratov regions, where military airfields in Marinovka and Engels are located.
It is difficult to call these measures effective. During the May holidays, reports of drones appeared regularly, including in Moscow. On the morning of May 10 alone, at least five regions of Russia reported a drone attack: in the Bryansk region, the loading point of the Druzhba oil pipeline in the village of Sven came under fire, in the Kaluga region, the air defense system shot down two drones near the village of Mekhovo. Two more UAVs attacked a military training ground in the Voronezh region. In the Kursk region, one UAV was noticed, in the Belgorod region - two, one of which “crashed into a power line and exploded”, a man died from shrapnel. There is no official confirmation that these drones are Ukrainian. But one thing is clear: the most effective measure to combat them would be the end of hostilities and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine.