In the continuation of the NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s increasingly sordid and pitiful saga, the Russian Federal Migration Service may soon give him the documents necessary to finally exit the “passport-less” section of Sheremetyevo Airport. Presumably, Snowden will then settle somewhere in Moscow during the next three months while his request for “temporary asylum” is being considered.
Hooray for the Kremlin’s newly-found passion for the freedom of expression! Now that Vladimir Putin is at it, might he be on a roll enough to grant political asylum to several dozen demonstrators, randomly snatched by the riot police from a rally more than a year ago as they were protesting Putin’s inauguration. After already spending more than a year in jail or remaining under strict travel restrictions, 12 of them are on trial now, and more are certain to follow them on the dock. Or will the Kremlin’s master reconsider the case of the activist Sergei Udaltsov, already under house arrest for nearly six months and soon to be tried for an alleged conspiracy to organize “mass disorder”? And how about protest leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, who last week was found guilty of an utterly bogus charge of “embezzlement” and is scheduled in a month or so to start serving a five year term in labor camps?
Meanwhile, Snowden’s “official unofficial” Russian lawyer, well-connected to the Kremlin, is seeking to introduce the putative “refugee” to Russian culture with a collection of Russian classics. One of the books he gave Snowden was Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. A book about deflation, collapse, and repentance of a self-proclaimed superman who had deemed himself above the law seems like a condign reading for the occasion.
According to the same lawyer, Snowden also expressed a wish to learn Russian. It should be a short course. Da zdravstuet tovarish Putin! or “Long live Comrade Putin!” and Amerika nash vrag! or “America is our enemy!” ought to be plenty sufficient for any free speech enthusiast welcomed by the Kremlin these days.