Hidden secrets behind the Russian press’s pumping up Edward Snowden is finally revealed. From the latest headlines out of Moscow where Edward Snowden has taken up residency in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport this past month, we’ve learned that the 30 year old former intelligence contractor may be holed up for another few weeks, as his official request for asylum has been turned down.
With the gears of diplomacy seemingly ground to a halt, we decided to use this brief refractory period to examine the coverage of Edward Snowden in the Russian media. To do so, we enrolled the services of Nataliya Rovenskiya, artist, native Russian speaker and resident Babblefish to The Blot. She provided these translations of headlines and excerpts from the past week:
Lenta.ru – a Moscow-based news website
The Outlet: Lenta.ru, A Moscow-based news website, considered one of the most popular Russian language online resources. Garners more than 600,000 visitors daily. Consistently ranks as one of the most cited news sources in the Russian blogosphere.
Headline: “Snowden Could Not Leave the Transit Area in Sheremetyevo Airport.”
Excerpt: “Former CIA officer Edward Snowden failed to leave the transit area of the airport because of bureaucratic delays on Wednesday, July 24. Snowden’s paperwork is under consideration, and his future will be resolved within a few days. All this time he will be in a capsule hotel of the airport.”Kommersant – a daily newspaper
The outlet: Kommersant, or The Businessman, is a daily Russian newspaper, which focuses on politics and business. It has a circulation of about 125,000.
Headline: “Edward Snowden wants to stay in Russia forever”
Excerpt: The former CIA officer has not yet received the documents allowing him to leave the Sheremetyevo.
After a meeting with Edward Snowden lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, stated that the former U.S. intelligence officer has not yet received the documents that would allow him to leave the Sheremetyevo and giving him temporary asylum in Russia has yet to be resolved.
Mr. Snowden wants to stay in Russia for permanent residence. After he’s given a certificate of political asylum, and he will live in Russia for five years and then will get Russian citizenship.1TV – state owned TV
The outlet: 1TV, the main state-owned broadcast channel
Headline: Sheremetyevo Airport – Snowden visited by a lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena
Excerpt: “Former U.S. intelligence officer, Edward Snowden, has been in Sheremetyevo a month. During the day came conflicting information that he allegedly took his things from the restroom in the transit zone and that in the near future may leave the airport. To do this, he needs to get documents that allow him to go through passport control and cross the Russian border. Lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, and dozens of journalists are on duty there.”
Back in the United States public support for Edward Snowden seems to be waning. According to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll, 53 percent of Americans believe that Edward Snowden should be charged with some sort of crime for leaking secret information. That number is 10 percent increase from just one month ago.
In Russia the debate over his culpability is raging as well, and recent remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov may indicate that Russia is distancing itself from Snowden. Speaking before a crowd of international reporters at the Moscow airport, he recently said “You know, we are not in contact with Snowden, and the issues he discussed with human rights activists were widely reported in the media.” He added, “I heard about them in the same way as everyone else. To obtain political asylum under Russian law you have to go through specific procedures. The first step in this process is to make a formal appeal to the Federal Migration Service.”
For it’s part, the United States is trying its best to expedite the process of extraditing Snowden to the United States, promising that he will not face the death penalty for his crimes. Under federal law, crimes of treason against the US can be punishable by death. (It should noted that this rule is fairly arcane and has only been enacted twice in history.)
As young Snowden receives a firsthand lesson in dealing with ins and outs of post-Soviet Russian bureaucracy, consensus seems to be that he will be staying put in Russia, for the foreseeable future. From the New York Times Arts Beat blog. Edward Snowden’s lawyer provided a shopping bag full of Russian literature to help while away the hours:
“According to news accounts, the lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, gave his client Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” the tale of law, order and redemption, telling him, “You should know who Raskolnikov was.” He added that the Chekhov was “for dessert,” and also provided him with the writings of Karamzin, a historian, for background on the nation’s development.”
Joel Mazmanian is a freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter: @joelmazmanian