Thursday, 25 July 2013

RUSSIA: Snowden's fate

Russia has not yet decided the fate of American fugitive Edward Snowden, blocked for a month in a Moscow airport, where he made a false exit on Wednesday. Meanwhile the United States continues to pressure Russia to return him back to America.

Not a single day passes without Washington threatening yet another country with sanctions if it provides Snowden with assistance. And hardly a day passes without some kind of statement from the State Department.  ''The United States does not seek extradition, but just the return of Mr. Snowden. We sent many people to Russia," U.S Ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, wrote in his Twitter account.

The Russian daily Kommersant, citing an American source close to the White House, stressed  on Thursday that Snowden's fate has been the continuous subject of discussion between Washington, since his arrival in the Russian capital and despite Russia's refusal to return him.

Yesterday, Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena met Snowden. He confirmed that the NSA leaker is not planning to leave Russia after receiving refugee status. However, Kucherena did not give any specific date when asylum documents should be issued. Asked about reasons for that, he explained that the delay in issuing all necessary papers to Snowden is due to the uniqueness of the situation.

The same day, the U.S. secretary of state John Kerry called his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to reiterate the U.S. position. John Kerry made it plainly clear to Sergei Lavrov that any action that would allow Edward Snowden to leave the airport would be very disappointing and will impact on Russia-US relations.

The White House has also requested an explanation from Moscow. "We are seeking clarification from the Russian authorities on the status of Mr. Snowden and any changes in it," said the spokesman of President Barack Obama, Jay Carney.

Edward Snowden is waiting for a certificate of registration of his application for asylum, which would allow him to reside and travel in Russia until the examination of the application, which must take place within three months. The lawyer gave no explanation other than the intricacies of the Russian bureaucracy. However these periods primarily reflect the indecision of Moscow in this case, which puts it in an awkward position vis-à-vis the United States.

All these so-called bureaucratic delays mean one thing: the Russian authorities do not know what to do with Snowden. Otherwise, Snowden would have received all necessary documents "at the same speed as that at which the actor Gerard Depardieu received his Russian passport. The French actor, Gerard Depardieu was granted Russian nationality in a few days in January by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist