Edward Snowden has applied for temporary asylum in Russia but approval is still pending. His lawyer, Anatoly Kucheren, said yesterday that Russia is his final destination for now, and his plans to fly to Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua - who have all offered him asylum - are temporarily off the agenda. The US has stopped him from flying to South America by announcing that any airline that carries him, will be forced to land by the US or one of their many allies.
America is unlikely to give up their intention of getting him sent home to face espionage charges but President Putin has refused to hand him over. He will only grant him temporary asylum on the condition that he stops releasing US secrets.
Snowden's lawyer is a member of the Public Council of the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB. Yesterday he bought his client a pizza, new clothes and some books so he can get acquainted with the Russian mentality and "our reality of life."
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"I bought him Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment because I think he needs to read about Raskolnikov killing the old woman pawnbroker" Kucherena said. "I don't want to say that Raskolnikov's inner conflicts are similar, but nonetheless, this world classic will be interesting for him." Jokes started appearing on social media that Snowden wouldn't be allowed to leave the airport until he'd finished the required Russian reading material.
The Russians are concerned about Snowden's safety and the possibility of him being whisked away by secret agents back to America. Former immigration service head Vladimir Volokh said it was likely Snowden wouldn't be allowed to move freely about the country. "Legally, he won't be forbidden to move about, but the main question here is guaranteeing his safety" he said.
I wonder on a scale of one to ten where Russia came on Snowden's list of favourite asylum destination preferences - he must be somewhat embarrassed, having to ask for asylum from a country he didn't really want to spend the rest of his life in, yet who ended up being his saviour. It must be beginning to dawn that maybe he's bitten off more than he can chew.