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Russian newspapers continue to focus on the future of former CIA agent Edward Snowden “stuck” in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden personally addressed Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa Delgado to turn down Snowden’s political asylum bid. He, in turn, replied that a decision on Edward Snowden “is in the hands of the Russian authorities.” Earlier Ecuador disavowed a travel document issued to Snowden in London.
The Kommersant business daily believes that this means that in fact, Ecuador has held aloof from deciding Snowden’s future, shifting the load of this ticklish issue to Russia’s shoulders.
Rafael Correa Delgado said a temporary travel document issued to Snowden by an Ecuadorian consul in London was invalid, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. This document should have made it possible for Snowden to leave for Latin America. However, Correa Delgado said his political asylum request will not be considered, when Snowden remains outside Ecuador.
As a result, Snowden’s plan of escape from the Unites States’ persecution is collapsing, the daily wrote. Moscow found itself in a complicated situation. What should be done with the runaway spy? Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov in an interview with the Echo of Moscow radio station found it difficult to answer this question, too. He said Snowden’s future is not on the Kremlin’s agenda.
He recalled that President Vladimir Putin gave his assessment of the situation and “clearly stated that de jure Snowden did not enter the Russian Federation and did not cross the border.”
“Moreover, the president said he does not address this issue and prefers that corresponding services do this job,” Peskov said.
“As long as this is not our issue, I do not know what variants of developments can be and what legal and other aspects of this theme exist. I cannot say or explain anything or give any assessment,” he said.
As concerns human rights activists they say the former CIA agent should not be extradited. Moscow Helsinki Group head Ludmila Alexeyeva shared this point of view, while the head of Russia’s Presidential Council for Human Rights, Mikhail Fedotov, believes that Snowden should be granted political asylum everywhere he wants, as he protects the world community. He warns the society of danger, which means he deserves protection from the society.
Later on Monday Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will arrive in Moscow for the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) meeting. Probably, he will help Snowden, the daily asked, expressing a supposition that Maduro is likely to follow in his Ecuadorian neighbour’s footsteps.
The Russian elite is divided in their opinions on what should be done with Snowden, Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote. Some of them, including human rights activists and patriots, demand that political asylum should be granted to him, while others, including many members of the American lobby group, try to diminish his achievements, discredit and elbow him out, if not to hand him over. Among pro-American votes are “bent cops”, law enforcers who in their time broke down the Soviet Union, who believed in the idea of “secret services’ convergence” and in the unification of all secret services against people of the world. They called him a traitor. We heard their voices on Russia’s Channel One, where they tried to show Snowden as a psychopath, fool, naive boy, who betrayed the main thing - his intelligence service.
The Izvestiya daily does not rule out that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro may take Snowden with him during his visit to Moscow on July 1-2.
Recently Maduro made it unambiguously clear in his statement that Venezuela was ready to receive Edward Snowden, the daily recalled. “Venezuela will raise the issue of granting political asylum to Edward Snowden at the meeting of the two presidents. But Nicolas Maduro will have a final say on a possibility of granting political asylum and conveyance of Snowden to Caracas,” a source in the Russian presidential administration said.
Foreign official delegations during their visit to Russia more often use the government transport wing in Vnukovo Airport, Izvestiya wrote. But there are exceptions - even the Russian president’s plane had repeatedly taken off from Sheremetyevo Airport to Africa or South America. The takeoff and landing strip is longer in Sheremetyevo, which allows planes with big fuel tanks to take off and make nonstop long distance flights. Therefore experts do not rule out that Maduro will fly from Sheremetyevo and will take Snowden with him.