Moscow taxi users face the bill amid GPS meddling claims

View of the Kremlin from inside a taxi
Image caption The Kremlin has been accused of disrupting satellite navigation

Suspected meddling with satellite navigation systems in Moscow has caused confusion on the roads.

Taxi users are facing inflated fares because their position has been wrongly located thousands of miles away.

It follows media claims the Kremlin has been trying to confuse global positioning systems (GPS) to thwart possible attacks on top officials.

However, the latest wave of reported cases appears to affect a wider area in Moscow.

Social media users in Russia have shared screen grabs suggesting their position had been misidentified as 0 degrees longitude and 0 degrees latitude – in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa.

One of them, journalist and technology reviewer Eldar Murtazin, said the error could have been caused by a deliberate disruption of satellite navigation systems “because someone is on the way to somewhere“, implying that an official was passing through the area so signals were jammed.

Other Twitter users posted screen shots of taxi hailing apps offering fares of several thousand dollars.

Is GPS OK in Moscow?” wondered one of them, posting a screen shot of a bill for 232,924 roubles (£3,000) for a ride from central Moscow to Sheremetyevo airport.

Another was offered a fare of 268,820 roubles.

Local firms confirm disruption

Yandex Taxi, one of Moscow’s largest online taxi booking services, confirmed to VC.ru website that some of the bills were too high and “were being dealt with manually”.

Yandex’s support service responded to one complaining customer on Twitter by confirming “disruption to GPS signals” and sharing an article that blamed the Kremlin.

Belka Car, a car sharing service in Moscow, also warned its customers that GPS signals in Moscow were “unstable” and could misidentify the car’s location as being in Romania.

Earlier complaints

Users of satellite navigation systems in Moscow have been complaining since 2016 that they often show clearly false locations.

GPS navigators near the Kremlin often misidentify their location as being at a major airport near Moscow.

This appears to be done in an attempt to trigger geo-fencing – inbuilt protection systems preventing drones from flying into the path of aircraft.

There have also been reports of a mass GPS error affecting at least 20 ships in the Black Sea in 2017, triggering suspicions that Russia may be perfecting GPS misdirection as a weapon.

The Russian president’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said in 2016 that he had been affected by GPS mislocation near the Kremlin himself, but refused to confirm or deny that security considerations were behind it.

“I know nothing about it. You need to ask the Federal Protection Service about this,” he told a journalist.

“If any security measures are necessary, they have been taken, and this is only the right thing to do,” he added.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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