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Putin sets condition for Snowden stay
July 1, 2013, 9:28 pm

Edward Snowden recently released secret documents about US Internet and telephone surveillance [The Guardian via Getty Images]

Edward Snowden recently released secret documents about US Internet and telephone surveillance [The Guardian via Getty Images]

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the media Monday that US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden could stay in Russia provided he “stop his work directed at hurting our American partners”.

Putin’s comments came amidst conflicting reports that Snowden had applied for asylum in 15 countries, including Russia.

The Russian Interfax press agency quoted Kim Shevchenko, a staff member at the airport’s consular department, as saying, “The UK citizen Sarah Harrison [representing WikiLeaks] passed on a request by Edward Snowden to be granted political asylum”.

Snowden is still believed to be in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, where he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong on June 23.

The Russian consulate at Sheremetyevo International Airport said they received all the necessary documents at 22:30 on Sunday.

“The fact that Russia President Vladimir Putin has drawn a line under the Snowden affair is quite logical,” says Peter Lavelle, host of Russia Today’s CrossTalk, told The BRICS Post.

Lavelle said Russia didn’t invite Snowden to the country nor asked him to reveal American intelligence secrets. He believes that Moscow won’t give Snowden to the Americans, but at the same time, it won’t not allow Snowden to determine Russia’s foreign policy interests.

“Putin made a rational decision, a rare compromise considering his strident defense of Russia’s geopolitical interests. Putin has also sent out the message he wants this issue resolved and soon. He won’t get much credit for this move, but it is clear he is allowing almost all to save face,” Lavelle said.

In the meantime, the head of the Federal Migration Service Konstantin Romodanovsky said they hadn’t received any asylum request from the CIA whistleblower.

Further adding uncertainty to his status, the Kremlin hasn’t commented on asylum reports, which appeared in the media earlier today.

“At this point we simply don’t have enough of the puzzle pieces to know what is really going on and the Russian and Ecuadorian governments, as well as Wikileaks, are not only saying things that contradict each other, but often contradicting themselves at various levels and in different ministries,” Mark Sleboda, a senior lecturer and researcher of international relations and security at Moscow State University, told The BRICS Post.

Sleboda says that Putin contradicted himself when he first said that Russia would never hand Snowden over, and then setting conditions for his stay.

“This type of contradiction may make for smart multi-vector foreign policy and spin – but makes reporting on the subject an ever-changing minefield for the press.”

The BRICS Post with additional reporting by Daria Chernyshova in Moscow, Russia

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