Bizarre GPS Activity Means Drivers Near the Kremlin Are Always at the Airport

bizarre gps activity means drivers near the kremlin are always at the airport

Everyone loves a good mystery, and in Russia it seems there are many. Read up on the Dyatlov Pass incident if you’re looking for a reason not to go camping.

In the country where a bearded charlatan once inspired a great disco song, something odd has cropped up in recent months. Moscow motorists, when not surviving serious collisions in subpar vehicles without a scratch, have noticed that their GPS device will suddenly re-position its location when driving near the Kremlin.

The closer to the Kremlin, the more likely the device will suddenly find an alternative location to exist. In every instance, the location is the same: Vnukovo Airport, 20 miles from the seat of government.

Local media had a field day with the news, with The Moscow Times running the headline, “The Kremlin Eats GPS for Breakfast.” Clearly, an unknown force, emitted from somewhere, is interfering with satellite signals and replacing pinpoint coordinates with a default location when people stray too near.

Before Christmas, a CNN reporter walked towards the Kremlin, phone in hand. Standing a mile from the complex, her Google Maps position remained stubbornly locked on Vnukova Airport, and nothing could be done to reset it. A CNN photojournalist travelling near the Kremlin found himself with a steep Uber bill after the driver’s GPS incorrectly calculated a trip from the airport, even though the trip didn’t originate, or terminate, at the airport.

When asked, official channels returned no explanation. The Russian Federal Protection Service, tasked with Kremlin security, apparently has no interest in dashing across Red Square to provide the press with details on the mystery.

An expert in GPS technology, Todd Humphreys of the University of Texas’ Radionavigation Laboratory in Austin, told CNN that the situation bears all the hallmarks of “spoofing.” Unlike jamming, where signals are simply denied access, GPS spoofing overpowers a signal with a much stronger one. That leads the device to believe that it is actually in a very different location.

Humphreys is convinced that the signals are being sent out to keep pesky drones away from the Kremlin. Because many commercial drones are pre-programmed to avoid airports, sending out a misleading signal would keep those peeping quadrocopters at bay. Can’t be too careful, you know.

Pushing out the signal would be a fairly easy task, too. All that’s needed is a GPS signal generator, an amplifier, and antennae.

Moscow blogger and Segway driver Grigory Bakunov, who mapped out phony signal area during a two-wheeled excursion last fall, believes the Kremlin pumps out a spoofed geolocation signal on the L1 frequency — the same one used by devices that map a person’s location.

Given that the Russian government has nothing to say about the matter, Muscovites had best get used to paying for rides from the airport, whether they were there or not.

[Image: Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY 2.0)]

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  • SnarkyRichard J have no desire to get an EV and will never get one . Just give me a manual transmission , a high redline , grippy 4 wheel disc brakes and a two lane highway to slice and dice my way through traffic . No smart phone connectivity needed , just a powerful stereo with 6x9 speakers in the rear to give the classic rock sound of American freedom on the open road . And that's all I have to say about that .
  • Gregtwelve While Sichuan managed to avoid the nationwide energy rationing witnessed in 2021, attributed to a lack of coalWe have plenty of coal. Let's sell them something for a change. And let us not forget that historically the Chinese hate the Japanese for what they did in WW2, so that might have something to do with it.
  • Jkross22 A toenail in every pot.
  • SCE to AUX If the plant had been powered by internal combustion, this wouldn't have happened. The entire plant is just a toy for the rich.
  • Jkross22 Gotta give the auto industry trollups some props - trying to guilt their johns into giving a bigger tip. Hilarious! Can't ever say Mary Barra doesn't have a helluva sense of humor.