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Russia extends Snowden residency by three years (bbc.co.uk)
207 points by graeham on Aug 7, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 184 comments

I suppose it's not unrelated to the russian embargo on European, Canadian, Australian, Norwegian and American food that was announced this morning and has yet to reach the US online news [0]. English translation [1].

[0] haven't seen anything yet on nytimes or wp.

[1] http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=fr&tl=en&u=http...

NYTimes has an article on front page http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/08/world/europe/russia-sancti...

it takes a while to write a couple hundred words sometimes.

What should we expect when our own President is trash talking Russia? http://news.yahoo.com/obama-russia-doesnt-anything-west-must...

Really, this guy is not doing well on the world stage, he almost seems to act like a petulant child at times with his comments.

Why shouldn't Russia do this, it causes embarrassment to a country who for the last few years has show contempt for anything Russia does. Its like the pot calling the kettle black.

The world is a flipping mess and two countries who could work together to fix it are having the equivalent of a playground spat.

If there are Russian soldiers in Ukraine supporting rebels, the actions of Russia are without question much worse than any of the actions taken by the US.

>If there are Russian soldiers in Ukraine

there aren't soldiers yet. Special agents, mercenaries and volunteers - yes. Including 200+ Serbs volunteers/mercenaries (Russians helped Serbs back in similar way in similar war in 199x)

>the actions of Russia are without question much worse than any of the actions taken by the US.

not really. Both countries regularly engage in proxy wars. US used real soldiers btw in Afganistan and Iraq.

Exactly. Bending the rules of our own Constitution and detaining and torturing folks is no where near as bad as stationing some troops in a disputed zone.

Sure, because Russia also has the habit of continued, systematic, shameless terrorizing and murdering innocent citizens of nuclear powers. I wonder why people are so outraged about Ukraine and yet fail to be about drones in Pakistan.

You seem to have forgotten about American soldiers supporting rebels in Libya.

America has surely done the very same thing as Russia is being accused of, countless times over the last 50 years. Why the double standard? Are American soldiers somehow 'better' than the Russian kind?

You don't think anything of those 300 innocents getting shot out of the sky?

It comes down to motivation. If the airliner was shot down accidentally, then there is a pretty clear precedent that victims and nations can sue for damages, but I do not recall any retaliatory sanctions against nations.

Ukraine shot down Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 in 2001, the US shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988 and the French probably shot down Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870 in 1980. The Russians do have form on this with shooting down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in 1983.

Unless it is a deliberate act, then it is generally treated as regrettable collateral damage, but is not usually considered an act of war. For the obvious reason that the world is already intentionally dangerous enough without us taking too much umbrage at any of the inevitable fuckups that constantly occur alongside the everyday business of blowing the shit out of each other.

Nobody in the West seem to think about hundreds of innocent civilians dying because of the brutal attempt of the new pro-Western Ukrainian government to subdue pro-Russian separatists in what they unashamedly call "Anti-terrorist operation".

Not to mention numerous other western-backed offensives in recent history... Wikileaks gave us brilliant statistics on civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's important to maintain some breadth of perspective here.

I have equal distaste for Obama and Putin and I have no idea if it's the Russians or Ukranians that are right / wrong (whatever that means). They can all burn in hell.

It's not cause the West "hundreds of innocent civilians dying because …" that you need to drag hundreds of OTHER innocent people into your conflict conflict.

So you thought that Russians and Ukrainians could burn in hell and the West would just keep supporting its puppet Ukrainian government and no western people would feel it? Wrong - you reap what you sow.

The people in that plane didn't support the Ukrainian or Russian government. Believe me, very few people here understand or even care about what goes on there. Personally I support neither cause I don't understand what it's about and it's none of my business. I stay out of your business and you stay out of mine.

If you say the Western public is guilty just cause they live or cause we vote, then believe me - nobody here votes for politicians based on what their policy on the Ukraine is.

Western public didn't care and let their politicians loose. This negligence had tragic and undeserved consequences for three hundred of them. This equally applies to Russians not caring about war crimes in Chechnya.

I'd like to point that there's some shifts after analysis of MH17 data: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/25147-focus-f...

Is there any objective investigation into who actually shot them down? (I'm asking honestly)

not really - because no party (nor US/Ukraine nor Russia/rebels) is interested in the official confirmation of what everybody knows really happened.

3 weeks before MH-17, rebels captured a full Ukrainian military installation containing a number of BUK missile systems and parts storage for them. They were able to repair one BUK launcher. There is no need for an electronics professional like Kerry suggested because Russian military system like BUK is repaired by swapping whole blocks (sourced from other launchers or from parts storage). A BUK launcher is only part of the system. It has smaller, less capable fire control radar (lesser range, only 120 degree instead of 360, lesser resolution) than the main BUK radar (which is a large radar on a separate vehicle, has full acquiring/identifying/tracking/targeting capabilities, and rebels didn't have a working one). Basically BUK launcher alone is a super-large glorified "Stinger". Using the repaired launcher, 2 weeks after capture, the rebels downed 2 Ukrainian transport planes and week later they celebrated, for half-an-hour, until the first people reached the crash site, the supposed downing of the 3rd transport plane.

Russia obviously doesn't want the public confirmation because it was Russia supported rebels who downed the plane. US/Ukraine don't want it because it was a BUK captured from Ukrainians, and Ukraine hadn't close the airspace and was accepting the civilian airliners' flight plans through the war zone (basically each time declare it safe to fly) even though the Ukrainian military were regularly flying the combat missions in the airspace, receiving anti-aircraft fire and losing planes to it, lost a number of BUK systems to rebels, after that lost 2 cargo planes to surface-to-air missiles at the heights not reachable by MANPAD missiles - and still didn't close the airspace and were still explicitly accepting civilian flight plans... This is why all this propaganda theories about a ghost lone Russian BUK launcher almost every night crossing into Ukraine territory and crossing back again.

The embargo's probably just reacting to the various sanctions put on Russia by Ukrainian allies.

Unlikely to be related. Europe just embargoed Russia hard, those counter embargoes are their answer (it will hit them harder than us, but it still sucks).

Russian here.

The bad thing is that embargoes (and counter embargoes) hit ordinary people hard, not politicians. Prices have increased by ~15% since January (and will increase more because of new embargoes). Many idiotic laws has been adopted. Other countries hate us. And so on.

Russia is now isolated from civilized world. And our government escalates this isolation.

I'm going to migrate to Australia/New Zealand/USA etc. But now it feels much more difficult to move to another country.

On the other hand, ordinary people in Russia seems to stand firmly behind their government and its' actions. Putin's popularity hits record hights (ridiculous 87% in latests polls - http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/putin-s-approval-...), overwhelming majority of people believes MH17 was downed by Ukrainians (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/30/mh17-vast-major...), etc.

Patriotism, propaganda, religion...all these things are to control people. People live in provetry, have nothing to eat, have no rights etc. And, sadly, still think Putin is a great leader.

Majority of population do not like to think. It is better to turn on TV - and here are all answers!

> Have nothing to eat

Do elaborate. Which people in Russia have nothing to eat?

Elderly people, for example.

Average pension in Russia is about 7000 - 11 000 RUR (~$220 - $300).

It's 11600 rubles ($320 without adjustment for purchase parity) now.

Don't come to america. It's the same crap.

(bigger TVs, though, probably)

TV sizes are no longer a problem since oil money and South Koreans manufacturng huge screens for cheap. Now the primary constraint is the size of apartments, which are often tiny by US standards - shiny large screen won't fit comfortably.

Ah, ok.

Until they suspend natural gas export ? Putin is probably waiting for winter to play this card.

As a European I wonder how hard this will really hit us? I have been hoping for a complete embargo against Russia and russian made goods for a while now, but I know come winter some of Europe will freeze.

In the long run, that'll hurt Russia a lot more than Europe.

I agree but in the short term some people are going to be freezing.


You don't want to be living in Finland and rely on natural gas for example. (To be honest I don't know how much and how Finland is using its natural gas)

Why wouldn't it be? The article begins with "his year-long leave to stay in Russia had expired on 31 July" and it's hard to imagine Putin not prolonging Showden's permission to stay cause it would be somewhat costly politically for him even if the relationship with the US hadn't deteriorated during this year.

I suspect that the initial sanctions had more to do with Snowden than with Ukraine.

FYI -- the women behind these sanctions, Victoria Nuland, used to be a senior aid of Dick Cheney. Prepare for shit to get a lot worse and last a lot longer than anyone expects.

This had to happen. With all the sanctions that the US and EU is slapping on Russia they had to do this. Independent of of the motives, I think this is good for Snowden. The enemy of enemy is a friend.

Good timing for Snowden - given that Russia is keen to retaliate for the sanctions right now they're probably pleased to piss the US off with this.

Why are we discussing Snowden's ability to travel? I mean, does he need to travel? Is that essential to him continuing what he is doing?

Freedom to travel is quite literally a declared Human Right. No need to question it's or why's.

While I support his right to travel I think he would be foolish to exercise that right at the moment. If I'm traveling abroad and find myself on a flight with him I will politely exit the aircraft.

I lol'ed at this one:

   "Accordingly, Edward Snowden was given a three-year
   residence permit," which will allow him to move about
   freely and travel abroad, Mr Kucherena said.
He can "travel abroad". Where exactly?

The Crimea is probably the safest place he could travel to at present!

The tragedy is here, that it appears that only the russian government is able to give Snowden a permit to stay.

All other european nations have declined to host him, that is until now.

So much about being independant countries...

A few things on this:

* Snowdon revealled much about GCHQ so you can't really expect the UK government to be any more supportive of his activities than the US one was. I don't know enough detail but suspect other countries were implicated too. In those cases they're not in thrall to the US, they're simply responding according to their own interests.

* For European countries not specifically mentioned, why would any government antagonise the US when they're probably doing similar things themselves.

* Let's not kid ourselves what the Russians are really doing. This is basically trolling on an international government scale. Putin certainly doesn't believe Snowdon is a freedom fighter, and his actions around support for Snowdon are hypocritical in the extreme given the sorts of activities Russia are almost certainly engaged in themselves.

It's unrealistic to assume any government will support Snowdon as a matter of principal. They'll do so if it is popular enough with the people of their country but to me at least this doesn't feel like something that your average person is going to get worked up about compared to more domestic issues such as jobs, the cost of living and Kim Kardashian's ass.

>Let's not kid ourselves what the Russians are really doing. This is basically trolling on an international government scale. Putin certainly doesn't believe Snowdon is a freedom fighter, and his actions around support for Snowdon are hypocritical in the extreme given the sorts of activities Russia are almost certainly engaged in themselves.

Not only that, but you also have to ignore the things the current Russian government could, would, and has done to people like Snowden to think this has every been some altruistic move on their part.

This is one the benefits (among many costs) of not having a world state, the interests of nations balance against each other creating room for successful dissent.

>This is basically trolling on an international government scale. Do you also think that giving the refuge to the dissidents form the USSR was trolling as well?

Which dissidents in particular?

Generally dissidents have more in common with the country they're fleeing to than the one they're fleeing from but that's not the case with Snowdon. He's not a communist sympathiser, he's closer to being an American patriot who has done something his government may disagree with because he wants his country to be better. Simply put he's in Russia because it's there or Guantanamo Bay.

On the Russian side Putin has no sympathy whatsoever with the principals Snowdon stands for. Putin is a former spy with a penchant for locking up or oppressing those who oppose him. His logic runs no further than my enemy's enemy is my friend. If Snowdon was had revealed similar information about Russian intelligence Putin would be first in line to have him locked up or worse.

You have an extraordinary ability to read Putin's mind.

For one thing, Putin don't seem to have the ambition to dominate the world like the US does and for which the NSA's global eavesdropping is an important tool.

You don't need to read anyone's mind, he's a world leader with a public history - just a bit of reading will tell you enough about him to make a pretty good guess at what's happening here.

That was remarkably unspecific.

Yes, still sad to see.

Don't mean to troll but for your information his name is spelled as SnowdEn.

A European country could give him a permit, the problem is that doing so would cause a massive diplomatic incident with the US, and most countries would rather not have to deal with that fuss. Russia (actually also European, just not EU European) had nothing to lose in that department, though.

I imagine it's tricky for any EU member wanting to take him due to the EU having an extradition treaty with the US and the fact that Europe wide arrest warrants are a thing.

It's worse for UK residents[0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK%E2%80%93US_extradition_trea...

There is no arrest warrant, at least not a red alert from interpol. It's all done biliteral on a per country base.

One of the problems is that he has no valid passport. The US has cancelled his. So he cannot take a regular flight. Also, any country would need to proactively make an exception to their rules to have him enter their territory, welcoming the wrath of the US administration.

What a bizarre world are we living in where you need a specially colored and printed piece of paper to travel and where it is this piece of paper, and not the technical problem of traveling thousands of miles, is the real challenge.

Indeed. For thousands of years people were able to move about relatively freely in most parts of the world, exceptions most often due to war. Only relatively recently has it become the norm to need permission from multiple states to move between them. Prior to the U.S. Civil War, it was difficult to even determine who someone was if they left their area of birth. Most forms of identity were informal and ultimately relied on a community attesting to who someone is. Identity systems weren't formalized and reliable, so you could start a new life in a new place under a new identity if you wanted to.

That's because commoners had no rights. So foreigners would mix up with the commoners, who cares?

Now that every single person has rights, accepting them in your country also gives you a responsibility towards them.

While state-enforced identity controls are used to enforce travel controls, it need not be so. You only need identity controls for state sponsored benefits (insurance, welfare, licensure, etc). There is no necessity for your mobility to be imparied by those identity controls; it is only how states have chosen to do it.

My point was that identity controls predated travel controls and were a prerequisite for a "papers please" kind of society. Each state chooses (either directly or by will of its voters) what responsibilities it owes to non-citizens in its territory. Those responsibilities can range from almost nonexistent to very generous, but it is ultimately the choice of the state, and not the visitors to that state.

Rights? Like what rights? Like the right to go anywhere I want to without the need for stupid papers?

He has a residence permit that allows him to get past Russian exit controls and travel abroad, so I suppose he can get on a plane if he wishes. Getting off will be a problem, yes. He'd have to arrange something with Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba, or the like.

Airlines generally won't let you board unless you have the necessary documents to enter the destination country (e.g. a valid passport, a visa if required). In fact, countries will fine airlines for bringing passengers without the correct documents.

As far as my experience goes, the only thing that gets checked in russian airport (for resident) is your passport. Passport control doesn't know where you are heading nor they care, nobody else checks it.

Maybe this is different matter for some flights (for example, to Israel or the USA), where the airline does additional checks on you, but you fly out to Europe and most other destinations unchecked (despite needing a visa to enter).

..and if your passport doesn't let you into country X, the airline won't let you board.

i.e. Russians need a visa to enter country X, you don't have one.

I don't recall airlines checking passenger visas. Either they don't or I'm not observant enough.

They check your passport, and they know if holders of passport from country X need a visa for country Y.

I've traveled quite a lot, and I'm always asked if I have authorization to enter the country I'm flying to.

I've travelled quite a bit (including Russia -> EU), and I've never been asked that.

Maybe they do a fast peek at your passport when letting you to board in the very end, but they can only check if some visa is physically there, since it takes them around 5 sec.

Was Snowden charged with a crime? Upon what basis did the US government revoke his passport?

Snowden was charged with two violations of the Espionage Act and theft of government property.


Yet, he did what he did to demonstrate the the US government was violating the US Constitution, which are the law also, and the US government charges him with violating the law? Who will charge the US government with violating the law? Or is the US government above the law? Is the law meaningless if it doesn't apply to the US government? Isn't the US Constitution specifically drafted to restrict the actions of the US Government? But if the US government violates the constitution with impunity, then isn't the US government illegitimate? And is an illegitimate government allowed to issued valid charges of violation of law, when it violates the law itself?

Snowden should have never been charged. Snowden is a hero, one who took his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, with all seriousness, at great personal risk, and now his good name is tarnished and his freedom is restricted, and the people who violated their oaths and broke the law are free.

Shame, shame.

The Crimea isn't "abroad" anymore if viewed from the russian side/perspective.

I guess that was part of my joke!

how about argentina for example? the non aligned movement has at least 120 member states, you'd think that there are one or two states that don't exactly agree with US foreign policy, eh?

How would he get there? Not by plane; last year, Bolivian President's plane was forced to land in EU on suspicion that he was carrying Snowden on board.


The US guessed that Snowden was on that plane, and guessed wrong.

But it was a reasonable guess given that Snowden had been in Russia for a week and Evo Morales was talking about offering him asylum.

It's harder to guess right when Snowden could (in theory) board any plane leaving Moscow on any day this year or next, or the year after that.

The US is tracking him, so he has practically no chance on a normal passenger flight. His only chances are on flights with diplomatic immunity.

> The US is tracking him, so he has practically no chance on a normal passenger flight

Tracking his day-to-day movements, even if he should arrange to get to an airport in secret? Extraordinary. Do you have a link for that?

What I meant was the has a much broader choice of flights and even airports now. The odds seem to more in his favour now, should he wish to move.

Though actually, why would he? I don't see any advantage for Snowden from relocating to the same show, but in Venezuela or Argentina.

Why would tracking someones movements be an extraordinary achievement for CIA? And if he would travel under his own name, why should it be hard for them to know where and when did he booked a flight?

Both tasks should be business as usual for such huge secret service.

Given the incident linked above, it may not be as easy as it seems in movies.

I'm not saying it is easy and flawless, just that calling it "extraordinary" is in all likelihood an exaggeration. They do not need to know where exactly he is at every single moment to make travel too risky for him. Them not knowing where he was during that incident does not imply them not knowing where he is now. Neither it implies them not having an informer who would tip them if the Snowden tries to arrange secret fly.

CIA had a lot of time between them and now. It also have a lot of resources and his movements are likely to be top priority for them. Them knowing he boarded a plane is real risk for him.

> Why would tracking someones movements be an extraordinary achievement for CIA?

I do think that would be an achievement while he's under the wing of the Russian government. But what do I know?

What's really extraordinary is that gpvos knows for sure that it's not only doable but is actually happening; and is willing to share this intel with us. Or they seem to know; no citation to support the claim has been provided yet. It could just be internet BS.

I'm not so sure he's actually being protected in any real way by the Russian government, as you seem to claim. Although the FSB is probably keeping tabs on him too.

For the rest: what watwut said in a nearby comment. I'm just extrapolating from things like the Evo Morales incident.

Submarines have been used to smuggle people. Both Argentina and Russia got submarines. But is it worth of it? But would be simpler to just take any private boat ride to Argentina. You don't need to always fly.

He has a chance, but I think the US would know after a few days that he has left the country, and would just raid all boats on plausible routes. The US is not all-powerful, but still pretty powerful and white-hot with rage, and willing to risk diplomatic incidents over this.

Submarines would be too expensive. He's not worth that much to Russia, Argentina or any other country.

He's got three years to quietly pick a flight. A piece of cake compared to pull off, if the strategy is good.

To be honest I'm not sure why he would. South American countries tend to have volatile regimes and Russia is probably the best place for him to stay, even occupationally.

And I wouldn't put it past the CIA to perform an extraordinary rendition since he can be easily plucked from a cafe in Bolivia. Harder to do one from Russia.

The problem is the US could try and stop his plane again when it passes above some US vassal country like UK, France, Spain, and so on. On the other hand, those countries would have to be pretty stupid to do that right now to Russia and force Putin's hand into a war (regardless of their chances of winning I think we can agree a war in Europe would be bad for all parties).

Is there this problem for a boat?

Granted, a boat trip is longer, which is more time for things to (be made to) go wrong, but if a ship is traveling through international waters, are there any grounds for another country to board it and seize its passengers?

(With a follow up: is there a sea route between Russia and Friendly Country X which doesn't pass through waters claimed by another country?)

if a ship is traveling through international waters, are there any grounds for another country to board it and seize its passengers?

Legal grounds? Does it matter?


Too bad that I can upvote this only once.

> if a ship is traveling through international waters, are there any grounds for another country to board it and seize its passengers?

Suddenly, pirates, out of fucking nowhere.


Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if some "random" thing happened to Snowden if he tried to go by a boat. Just like Assange became an sex offender out of the blue the moment he seriously pissed off the US government.

Well, not to put a fine point on it, but Assange was already known as a bit of a dick.

I think the issue was, what was considered rape in Sweden was basically just being a misogynistic douche in other countries.

However, he would have known this well before going into the country, it's not like they created a new law just for him.

I doubt the US is so subtle as to use pirates. People seem to have these grand conspiracies about how the government is like a ninja...it's not.

They will simply send the police around and arrest him. Seriously, why are they going to bother with cloak and daggers for? This isn't a Bond movie. They will simply arrest him, and charge him with espionage charges since...err..that's sort of what he did?

As far as routes, Russia doesn't have the best access to the ocean. He'd definitely have to pass through waters claimed by nations not friendly towards him. The 3 best options are:

Vladivostok, which is very close to Japan, and would be nearly impossible to not go through either South Korean or Japanese waters. Neither of which are friendly to him.

Sevastopol, Which requires going through the Turkey, and then either through the straights of Gibraltar or Egypt.

St Petersburg, Which requires passing through Denmark.

If I were in his shoes, I'd probably try to charter a Jet coming out of Vladivostok. If that wasn't possible, I think I'd choose the Sevastopol/Gibraltar route by sea.

The US Navy is probably the biggest problem. That and the navies of all of its allies.

The boldest move would be for Putin to let Snowden board a nuclear sub and let him go freely to his chosen destination, under the protection of the Russian navy.

If Putin's willing to go to that level of provocation, why bother with a sub? Sending him on a surface ship is easier, cheaper, and less of a security risk. It's not like the US is going to try to board a Russian military vessel.

Planes are easier to ground (see what happened with Morales). The US wouldn't even be close to knowing where Russia's subs would be:

> It was the US Navy’s biggest jolt in years. On October 26, 2006, a Chinese Song-class attack submarine quietly surfaced within nine miles of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk as the 80,000-ton-diplacement vessel sailed on a training exercise in the East China Sea between Japan and Taiwan.

>The Song-class vessel, displacing 2,200 tons, was close enough to hit the Kitty Hawk with one of its 18 homing torpedoes. None of the carrier’s roughly dozen escorting warships detected the Song until it breached the surface.



I don't know what your point is.

Sorry, I thought it was obvious.

My point was that if Snowden were to travel by plane then there is a high probability that it could be forced to be grounded and Snowden captured then sent to Gitmo.

But if he were to travel by submarine, he would be untouchable from the US Navy.

My point was that if Putin were willing to send Snowden elsewhere, why not just use a regular military surface ship. Or, for that matter, why not fly him in a Russian air force transport?

It's silly to think the US would get into a military engagement with Russia just to capture Snowden. At this point, he's not that valuable to either side, except as a propaganda tool. Hell, Putin would probably do a happy dance if the US were stupid enough to do something like that. The sabre rattling in the Ukraine has made him very popular - one can only imagine what a revived cold war rivalry would do for him; in the short term, at least.

Now that, is a super good idea.

Pretty much the best way to travel under the radar.

Would he have to fly through Europe? Isn't a direct flight from the eastern end of Russia over the Pacific possible as well?

A great circle rotue from eastern Russia to South America would fly over the US - probably the last thing Snowden wants to do.


There is nothing about the travel safety in quote you provided

No, but that was my point. Snowden cannot safely fly anywhere without risking a sudden and abrupt rendition to the US.

He cannot risk flying. The Bolivian incident showed just how powerful the US is when it comes to Snowden and flying. They forced down a presidential jet for god's sake! They were willing to risk a massive diplomatic incident and outcry (toned down) by doing so.

He could travel by boat somewhere quietly, but (in my opinion) countries that have offered him some degree of asylum, such as Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela are not stable or strong enough to oppose the will of the United States of America. If I was Snowden I couldn't imagine anything worse than landing in Bolivia, only to find that two years later a pro-US president miraculously wins the election. The US-CIA have a rather impressive record of subverting elections in South and Central America, so he would be a fool to risk it.

Therefore, he is confined to Russia until Russia finds a reason to become the USA's best friend. He can travel overland to any country that is pro-Russia and protected by Russia. That's about it. Most of them are (ex)war zones.

Considering the current geo-politics, that scenario is highly unlikely. The status quo is likely to remain, as long as oil, gas, and other natural resources are fought over by the world's major league countries.

The US has little (in comparison) natural resources, whilst Russia has more than any other country. Long term, the power scales will tip. The only thing that may change that is a pro-USA Russian government.

Oh, and pigs might fly over the Kremlim before that happens.

If he's lucky, the US will end up at odds with China in a few years, giving him another large nation on his "side".

If any country is able to stand up to the US coup attempts, it has to be Cuba.

Cuba is softening. Raul has made huge inroads, most recently allowing property ownership, which is huge step forward. Once Fidel dies I think things will start to change. Once Raul dies even more so.

The US could rapidly turn Cuban relations around if they wanted something like say 'A Snowden'.

He is probably safer in Russia than anywhere else, until he pisses them off. The smart money says he isn't about to do that of his own volution.


What about China?

It would be safer not to fly over Ukraine though. You never know, missiles pop up unexpectedly these days.

That would be a great way to incite war. No government is that stupid.

I believe the GP was referring to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_17

> He can "travel abroad".

Some non-Russians who visit Russia need an exit visa. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/exit-visa.asp

------ My original post was getting heavily downvoted, even after the first edit. Here it is, with the first edit. I've ROT13d it to stop people down-voting the (now corrected) mistake.

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  No, Russians don't require a permission to leave the country.
  You are just babbling some made-up factoids.

  A Russian citizen

It used to be like that for all citizens. But that practice has been abolished quite a while ago, if you have a valid passport and you're not on a list of 'persons of interest' you can leave the country like everywhere else.

But you are right in Snowdens case, since foreigners resident in Russia need an 'exit visum' to be allowed to do trips abroad, and clearly Snowden is one of those.

Snowden is not a citizen.

I never claimed he was a citizen, but he is a resident and that's the bit that matters here. And that's exactly the situation that part of the law applies to (and it is one of the reasons I never wanted to live in Russia, I don't want to have to ask permission to leave a country).

So Snowden needs permission to be allowed to leave.

DanBC said "citizen", not you.

And I have since edited to correct my mistake.

That is incorrect. The only thing you have to have is foreign passport, as everywhere else.

The only exception if you work for government and have some sort of security clearance.

just in case someone misunderstands your post: in Russia, passport for international travel is called "foreign" passport to disambiguate it from the internal ID, which is also called "passport".

"Russia is one of these countries." Not true.

Possibly it refers to him being allowed to _return_ to Russia if he travels abroad.


Not sure what you're suggesting, but if you're wondering why Snowden doesn't leak details on Russia regarding the Ukraine situation, I think the answer is really simple, Snowden leaked on NSA because he worked at NSA, thus he was in capacity to leak what he leaked, but as he certainly doesn't work for FSB he certainly doesn't have access to what you're asking for. What it would require though is a russian working for FSB, maybe inspired by Snowden, he might even safely ask for asylum to US after such a leak.

That would put the US in a fantastically difficult position - they can't be anti-Snowdon but pro someone doing it to another government.

Torturing prisoners, invading iraq on false pretense, sending drones/soldiers into pakistan, spying on allies... I think the US wouldn't have problems handling that situation, that's peanuts.

Of course you can, if what is revealed is considered more "whistleblower"-worthy (say, secret plan to kill babies).

All whistleblowing is not the same.

I'm sure Russia Today will report it as soon as it happens, haha.

The more I look at this, the more I am becoming convinced that Ukraine was a retaliation for Snowden getting a shelter in Russia.

If you rewind back, the US reaction to Snowden staying in Russia was remarkably disproportionately mild. For an incident that made an unprecedented damage to the US image, it was very un-US like to just let it go. So tearing Ukraine away from Russia and pissing all over Russian political image fits right in. These two events just cannot not be connected.

Stop with the conspiracy talk. Euromaidan was not orchestrated by the US. Ukraine, ever since its independence, has been divided by pro-Western and pro-Russian fantions. It is hardly surprising that protests in the West sprung up when Yanukovych delayed signing the Association Agreement.

Even if we forget about the US/Europe thing, remember that Yanukovych was previously ousted from power in another revolution 10 years before: the Orange Revolution.

There is a leaked Nuland-Pyatt call [1] where State Department officials discuss that their Ukrainian puppets must not compromise [2].

Next, there is a speech where Nuland brags about "investing" $5 billion dollars in Ukraine to help it "achieve its European aspirations" [3]. And here is an article [4] about part of the money going to unknown recipients or political parties and NGOs.

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26079957

[2] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-25896786

[3] http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/rm/2013/dec/218804.htm

[4] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/07/us-foreign-aid-ukra...

It might not have been orchestrated but it was heavily funded by the US. I seem to remember watching a video where a Ukrainian girl tries to emotionally explain why people should support Maidan. The video had almost 10 million views. I did some researching and it turns out the video was funded by a US senator. Then there's Pierre Omidyar funding opposition groups through USAID and who knows what kind of other funding Maidan has received.

I don't think it's a conspiracy that US successfully managed to get Ukraine out of Russia's hands. A good thing, some might say.

Oh sure, the US tends to support groups that go with its agenda. It helps pro-democracy (and pro-capitalist, pro-free trade etc.) groups. I suppose they could've helped them, I have no idea how that'd work in practice though.

However, I think it's nonsense to suggest it's some massive US/EU plot to get revenge on Russia. It was spontaneous and reacting to something completely unrelated to Snowden or Syria.

Could you give the details of your research? Who is that senator and what proves the link?

Please, don't be so naive.

Given the scale and duration of Euromaidan the chances of it being a spontaneous phenomenon are zero. It had to be centrally coordinated and directed to last this long. It could've been coordinated by activists, but then somehow all their organizational skills disappeared right after Yanukovich was gone. Just look at the mess that followed. Someone else was directing.

Really? The massive Orange Revolution (which ousted the same man, Yanukovych) ten years earlier was not a US plot, yet nobody questions that. And that one was properly organised.

>ten years earlier was not a US plot, yet nobody questions that.

Are you joking? http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/26/ukraine.usa

Ten years ago everyone thought the Orange and Rose revolutions were US plots, and Georgia even took US military aid to go to war with Russia.

The US was unquestionably involved in both, not sure why you think otherwise...

> It could've been coordinated by activists, but then somehow all their organizational skills disappeared right after Yanukovich was gone. Just look at the mess that followed.

This is how virtually every revolution goes.

Alternatively, the US government is simply not as evil and powerful as you think it is. While the US would like to capture Snowden and make him face a jury of his peers to enforce the law and (in their mind) deter future leakers, it's simply not that huge of a priority. The horses are already out of the barn. The US interest is limited. The US government is content to hassle Snowden in ways that don't involve any substantial investment of effort and power.

Occam's razor, and all.

Sure the US wants a trial, but it's important to note that in Espionage Act cases it'd basically be a show trial. Whistleblowing, intent, public interest, even constitutional defenses are inadmissible [1]. In fact the prosecution does not even need to show even that leaked information could have been potentially harmful. If Snowden did go to trial, his only hope would probably be either be a media circus (this did not seem to help any of his predecessors) or jury nullification. [2]

[1] https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2013/12/if-snowden-r...

[2] http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/07/would-an...

That neither surprises nor outrages me. The purpose of a trial is to determine whether or not you broke the law, not why you broke the law. That can be relevant in your sentencing, but why you broke the law is not relevant as to whether you broke the law. That does not in any way make it a "show trial."

In an ideal world we might have stronger whistle-blower protections in the Espionage Act, but for the moment it works like most other laws: the reason you violated the law may mean the prosecutor decides not to pursue the case or mean you get a light sentence, but the trial is not about why you did it, but whether you did it.

Why absolutely is relevant. If there is a dead man in your home, did he break in and threaten you or was it someone who you invited in and then killed? It is appalling for a defendant to be prevented from giving his story. Generally, a prosecutor wants a defendant to take the stand as to trip them up in their lies. Never in Espionage Act cases. Why?

The context of the Espionage Act absolutely matters. Daniel Ellsberg, Drake, Manning were not able to speak for themselves at trial. Lawyers would point out that a law from 1917 is wildly being taken out of context by US prosecutors. In all of these leaker cases, including Snowdens, the government was revealed to be involved in incredible immoral and illegal activities, and sometimes even atrocities. The US Prosecutors think that is irrelevant. To an amoral society it is.

> The context of the Espionage Act absolutely matters. Daniel Ellsberg, Drake, Manning were not able to speak for themselves at trial.

They absolutely were. Both Russo and Ellsberg testified about their reasons for leaking the Pentagon Papers and their experiences in Vietnam. Manning, whose case much different since it was tried by the military's judicial system, also got a chance to speak for himself. Manning pleaded guilty to ten charges and gave a long statement, in part explaining why he did it. There was also substantial testimony during the trial for the remaining charges explaining why he did it. Drake never went through the full process because the government dropped the charges.

> Why absolutely is relevant. If there is a dead man in your home, did he break in and threaten you or was it someone who you invited in and then killed?

That not a "here's why I broke the law", that's a "I didn't actually break the law, it was self defense and not first degree murder."

I wouldn't have a problem either if all the far graver crimes/criminals that Snowden's leaks revealed would also be prosecuted with as rigorously but we know that's not going to happen. We're not talking about why or whether you broke the law, but about how much power you have within the system. If there's no surprise or outrage, that just means the nominal raison d'être of the founding fathers / US Constitution is so far dead that it doesn't matter anymore. Sadly, this is most likely the case.

> I wouldn't have a problem either if all the far graver crimes/criminals that Snowden's leaks revealed would also be prosecuted with as rigorously but we know that's not going to happen.

What specific crimes could we use to prosecute specific people? What the NSA is doing might be illegal and unconstitutional, but that doesn't mean there's a legal framework in place for punishing people specifically. I believe there are cases still moving in the judicial system to prove NSA actions were illegal and/or unconstitutional and to put an end to those actions.

>If there's no surprise or outrage, that just means the nominal raison d'être of the founding fathers / US Constitution is so far dead that it doesn't matter anymore. Sadly, this is most likely the case.

Calling it nominal is certainly the right usage. The founding fathers/US constitution offered the majority of the population no power whatsoever within the system. And the ink was hardly dry on the paper before the same founding fathers were flagrantly violating the rights of even propertied white men with, e.g., the Sedition Act. People went to prison for the crime of criticizing John Adams.

I'd say we're much better off now. Rather than saying it's "so far dead that it doesn't matter anymore", I'd say it's entering the prime of its life in the long view.

The excuse that he can't make a case in court is way more nuanced than your linked article indicates. Snowden has been charged under two counts of the Espionage Act (along with theft of government property): Section 793(d) and Section 798(a)(3) [1]. The Freedom of Press Foundation article cites the John Kiriakou, Stephen Kim and Bradley/Chelsea Manning, who were all charged under 793(d), as well as Thomas Drake, who was charged under 793(e). 793(d) reads as follows (emphasis mine)[2]:

(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it

793(e) is similarly worded. It's not that the government doesn't need to show damage - they can't. It's not applicable to the charges. The law is written in favor of the leaker - so long as he or she believed that what they were disclosing would not cause harm to the US, they can't be found guilty under this law. They could reveal nuclear launch codes to the Russians and in the process destroy the entire state of Ohio; so long as they didn't believe that what they were doing would cause harm, they're not guilty under Section 793. Snowden could easily take the stand and say "I didn't believe this would cause any harm. On the contrary, I believe what I leaked was of benefit to the US." The problem for him is that it would probably be hard to find a jury who believed that.

798(a)(3) is ambiguously worded[3] (emphasis mine):

Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information...

... (3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government...

I'm not sure how the courts would decide to interpret the statue. Is it "(communicates...|publishes|uses) in any manner..." or "(communicates...|publishes|uses in any manner...)"? In the former case, the US government does indeed need to show damage; in the latter case they don't. Since there's not a whole lot of case law on this, it's tough to say. I'd imagine Snowden's defense (if he ever faces trial) would probably push to have it interpreted the first way. Note also that this law only concerns specific types of classified information, while 793(d) is more broad in what it covers.

It's also worth noting that the whole "Snowden couldn't get a fair trial" meme is being pushed by Glenn Greenwald (the primary beneficiary of the Snowden leaks) and people close to him. In the case of your article, Trevor Timm is a co-founder and board member of the Freedom of Press Foundation; Greenwald is also a founder and board member. And, incidentally, Edward Snowden (who would benefit the most from public perception that he couldn't get a fair trial) is also a board member[4].

[1] http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/A_U.S.%20new...

[2] http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/793

[3] http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/798

[4] https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/about/board

> tearing Ukraine away from Russia and pissing all over Russian political image

When did that happen? Did we watch completely opposite news for the last couple of months?

huhtenberg means this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euromaidan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Ukrainian_revolution

Right before Russia started attempting to tear Ukraine back again. With mixed results.

Ok, I wouldn't call that "tearing Ukraine away from Russia", since it was basically standard negotiations gone crazy - that's what confused me.

No, it started with Syria. Most of what the US government is doing now to Russia is a retaliation to Russia blocking NATO's invasion to Syria

> The more I look at this, the more I am becoming convinced that Ukraine was a retaliation for Snowden getting a shelter in Russia.

That, but mostly because Russia stopped USA from bombing Syria. Remember when USA really really wanted to, and then Russia just sent some of the best anti-air defense system, (S300?) to Syria, as well as pulled that "we will ask Assad and oversee that he removes the chemical weapons" - thus taking the main argument for punishment/bombing from under USAs feet.

After that event, I remember Kerry or someone else said "Russia will pay for this".

So, I gather that "tearing Ukraine away from Russia" means that you don't believe Ukraine is (or should be) a completely sovereign country, separate from Russia?

Both can be completely correct:

1. I believe Ukrainians would rather be EU citizens and would rather be politically closer to the EU than Russia.

2. I believe the US and other nations have been yanking Putin's chain for various reasons.

There is no contradiction between the two.

Let's imagine that Mexico suddenly became Russia's best buddy. How do you think the US would feel about that?

I don't have to like spheres of influence to believe there is some reality to them.

Ukraine didn't "suddenly become the US's best buddy", you know. The country's been bitterly divided over whether to be pro-West (and largely pro-democracy by extension), or pro-Russian for more than two decades.

No, I didn't mean that.

More like trying to turn people who are life-long friends into blood enemies. It's an inherently same culture, similar language, mentality and drinking habits, same religion. If you look at the beginning of the rebel conflict, you'd see a great deal of resistance on both side to engage in active hostilities. On more than one occasion Ukrainian troops were talked into turning back. People don't want to fight, but they are being actively coalesced into it. There's no simmering feud, no age-long hatred, no real reasons for fighting except for high-level geopolitics, which is why I think that Ukraine's anti-president revolt didn't happen in isolation, but as a response to something that happened earlier, of which Snowden seems to be the simplest explanation.

So none of the former Eastern Bloc have ever wanted to, you know, have their sovereignty respected? Considering how Russia treats Ukraine (cutting off the country's gas supplies at a moment's notice), I'm hardly surprised a lot of the country is pro-EU.

We didn't have to convince most of the Eastern Bloc, they came running to us with open arms. Why would Ukraine be any different? Sure, some of them speak Russian, but that doesn't mean they want to be Russian.

I don't follow. You are assigning me some conclusions that I didn't make and then go on to disprove them.

You're saying we're trying to turn these "life-long friends into blood enemies", no? The Ukrainians are doing it themselves.

Also, to be fair, I'm not sure it's true Ukraine is "life-long friends". They've been dominated by Russia for centuries. Given the chance to be independent, I wonder if they'd take it.

Who are these "we" that you operate with?

The West.

I think it is pretty clear Ukraine was tired of being a puppet state of Russia. No conspiracy necessary. Actually it is kind of insulting to the Ukrainians who want EU style freedom.

Great, now he has more time to sit on his ass and say nothing about the terribly oppressive Internet laws that Russian government enacts over its citizens. So brave.

Why do you expect him to be some sort of super hero that continuously risks his own life to expose information to the general public when you do nothing at all but whine on a forum?

Got a bit of entitlement there do we?

I'm just expecting him to not be a huge hypocrite as he was when he went on public record of praising Russia's commitment to human rights. [1] Apparently that only includes his rights, not us, regular people of Russia. I'm just doing my part of spreading awareness about his unforgivable hypocrisy.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/edward-snowden-asylum-stateme...

Those who fight, have to pick their battles.

Those who don't, get to "fight" everything and everyone.

Have a good day "fighter"

> I'm just doing my part of spreading awareness about his unforgivable hypocrisy.

He did his part to spread awareness about U.S. government's unforgivable hypocrisy so I suppose that just about cancels out in terms of impact on the world, eh?

That's the problem, nobody hears our plight and my voice is suppressed even on this very forum, while Snowden has all the media in the world to transmit his message. I don't. My message won't be heard because it doesn't concern the first world people. It's not a first world problem, so media doesn't give a shit about it, and Snowden doesn't give a shit about it either.

Except you are not trying to spread the message about oppressive internet laws in Russia. Nor are you informing and complaining about Russian freedom. Instead, you are complaining about Snowden not instantly becoming Russia freedom activist and general expert on Russia freedom.

Because if he does not get himself involved in freedom of all countries in the world, then his own message about freedom in country he is actually citizen of does not count. Because he should voluntary spend the rest of his life in small box to prove his is not hypocritical, right?

This is a post about Snowden, so my comments are also about Snowden. Staying on topic is a good thing, right? I made plenty of comments about the censorship in Russia in other threads.

>Instead, you are complaining about Snowden not instantly becoming Russia freedom activist and general expert on Russia freedom.

Oh, I could compare him to actual Russian freedom activists who didn't run away from their country when things got tough, and went to prison for their beliefs. But that comparison would be unfavorable to Snowden. Did anyone in the world care when Russian whistleblower Alexei Navalny got arrested? Was it on Hacker News front page? Oh, and Snowden was around here when that happened. He most certainly knew it happened (it was big news here in Russia). He didn't even say a word about his fellow whistleblower. This is the shit that drives me up a wall.

Are you writing from prison in Russia? If not why haven't you supported Alexei Navalny and criticised Putin until you were arrested and thrown in prison for it? If you consider the reasons why you have not protested enough to be imprisoned in Russia, Snowden's reasons for not speaking out from his vulnerable position are probably very similar.

Also, for the record, he has openly criticised censorship in Russia -

I’ve been totally open about the fact that I disapprove of the majority of the recent laws in Russia on internet censorship and surveillance. I think it’s entirely inappropriate for any government in any country to insert itself into the regulation of a free press.


I understand where you're coming from. The US is the center of the world, while it seems everyone else only exists relative to them. It's a fair criticism, and I'm as guilty as the next person in my biased reading of news.

That said, that's not Snowden fault. Yes, he's an hypocrite, but so what? Are you judging him by the same standard as you judge yourself, or your friends? Or are you blaming him for the indifference of the whole Western population? He's just a guy.

Did anyone in the world care when Russian whistleblower Alexei Navalny got arrested? Was it on Hacker News front page?

Well, you didn't submit it. See my point about measuring others by a different standard? :)

He cannot afford to come out against Russia while the US is attempting to lock him up an trow away the key.

He obviously knows that Russia is using all of this to limit freedom of speech and human rights on the internet and in the country however there's nothing he can do.

This is a fight the Russian people will have to fight for themselves.

I agree that his statement was hypocrite. So what? Who cares?

If you imagine Putin behind him with a gun pointed at his head you will understand his situation.

He's got him by the balls and can make him dance like a puppet if he wanted to.

That doesn't make his past actions any less heroic.

That's a little unfair, isn't it?

Whether you agree with his actions or not, he's certainly no coward. He's also unlikely to be in possession of any information about Russia that isn't widely known.

Surely it'd be crazy to risk his only refuge when he has neither power, nor information, nor responsibility.

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