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|Snowden Is Turning Into a Liability for Putin
by Leonid Bershidsky
Edward Snowden is increasingly unhappy with the situation in Russia, where he has lived for more than three years. President Vladimir Putin once welcomed the National Security Agency contractor for his propaganda value, but he may be wondering if it's all been worth it.
Snowden arrived in Moscow in June 2013. That was almost a year before the Crimea annexation, and Russia could still try to sell itself to radical leftists who admired Snowden as the lesser evil, compared with the Big Brother U.S. Putin talked a lot about Snowden showing obvious delight for thumbing his nose at the U.S., which had tried to intercept the whistle-blower. He described Snowden as a "weird guy," an idealist, who was safe in Russia even though he had no secrets to pass on.
The Espionage Act
After Crimea, though, such statements started to appear hollow. "Russia is not the kind of country that hands over fighters for human rights," Putin said at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in May 2014. That the Russian president could talk about human rights after faking a secession referendum in Crimea would have been funny if it weren't so manipulative.
Snowden appeared to play along. In 2014, he took part in Putin's carefully stage-managed and scripted annual call-in show, asking the Russian leader whether Russia intercepted, stored and analyzed its citizens' electronic communications. Putin said Russia used advanced technology to fight terrorism. "But we do not allow ourselves to use it on a mass scale, in an uncontrolled way," he added. "I hope, I very much hope, that we never will."
Snowden defended what appeared to be a softball question in a column for The Guardian, saying that he had "sworn no allegiance" to Russia and that he would fight total surveillance everywhere. The Guardian article helped him maintain credibility among Western radicals.
On several other occasions, Snowden criticized Russia for its treatment of homosexuality and for attacks on internet freedoms, but the Kremlin was unconcerned. "These are rather arguable statements, but he has his point of view," Putin's press secretary, Dmitri Peskov, said last year. "Yes, he lives in Russia, but it doesn't mean anything is being imposed on him."
In recent months, though, Snowden has stepped up his harsh criticism of Russian ways: It became clear to him that Putin had lied during that call-in show.
The NSA leaker took to Twitter in July, when the Russian Parliament was passing the so-called "Yarovaya package" -- a fiercely repressive set of laws aimed at establishing total control over Russians' online communications. Internet providers and mobile operators are expected to record and store all conversations and message exchanges for six months, and their metadata for three years. Internet companies are obliged to help the Russian secret police decrypt any encrypted communication. Snowden's condemnation was vehement:
Moscow expects new U.S. leader to display will for mending ties with Russia
Tass via Russia Beyond the Headlines
Moscow expects Washington to display political will on building good relations with Russia after the presidential elections, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sept. 8.
"We hope that after the end of the [U.S.] election campaign, we will see Washington’s political will towards building good relations," Peskov said.
He said the Kremlin is watching the election campaign and the statements made by the candidates.
"We see that Russia and Putin are mentioned almost every day in the course of the U.S. election campaign. Both candidates are turning to the Russian issue and Putin," Peskov said.
"It definitely explains the role Russia is playing on the international arena," the spokesman added.
He also said the Kremlin paid more attention to the statements made by the candidates than to those of the outgoing president.
Putin wants new state armaments program draft prepared by July 1, 2017
The president has noted the necessity of giving a comprehensive assessment to the budget expenditures for the implementation of this program.
OVO-OGAREVO, September 9. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed the government to present by July 1, 2017 a new state armaments program draft, ensuring its continuity with the current one.
"It is necessary to ensure continuity of the current and new program (of armaments) that we’ll discuss with you today," the president said at a meeting on the main parameters of the state armaments program for 2018-2025.
Putin said that "during the preparation of its (the program’s) financial parameters it is necessary to proceed from the fact that the Armed Forces and other troops should be provided with modern weapons and equipment at a level which will make it possible to effectively and completely fulfil the tasks for the reliable protection of Russia from potential military threats."
Putin said that all the previous budgetary commitments and plans in the field of defense and security of the state must be unconditionally implemented. He instructed the government officials to complete the generalization of proposals on the new state armaments program this year. "And then I ask the government to submit before July 1, 2017 a draft program for approval", he said.
The president said that it is also necessary to give a comprehensive assessment to the budget expenditures for the implementation of this program.
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