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Putin Calls U.S. Special Forces 'Unprofessional' for Letting Snowden Slip

Published: May 25, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • Protesters hold masks depicting former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden during a demonstration in Berlin.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

If the U.S. special services had acted professionally, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden would be "rotting in jail," Russian President Vladimir Putin told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Friday.

In his keynote speech at the forum, Putin also referred to Snowden as a "champion of human rights" and said the 30-year-old leaker has not shared any secret information with Russia.

Putin suggested that while handing over intelligence might have been a fair trade for Russia's provision of asylum, Snowden "is not our agent, and gave up no secrets."

Putin blamed the United States for the fact that Snowden is still in Russia. Days after leaking thousands of classified U.S. documents to journalists in Hong Kong last summer, Snowden turned up in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, from where he planned to fly on to a third country. But then, Putin said, the U.S. stepped in.

The U.S. "scared the whole world," Putin said. "Snowden arrived in the transit zone and it turned out that no-one would take him. If they hadn't terrified everyone, he would have successfully taken off, flown to some other country, they would have nabbed him in transit, and he would long ago have been 'rotting' in jail."

"But they scared everyone and he stayed in the transit zone [in Moscow]," Putin said. "And what are we supposed to do? Russia is not a country that gives up champions of human rights."

Earlier this month, Snowden's lawyer said that his client, who fled to Moscow last year after leaking the United States' intelligence-gathering programs, expects his asylum status in Russia to be renewed this June.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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