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Political scientists on Edward Snowden problem

July 15, 2013, 12:11 UTC+3

Some human rights activists in Russia are convinced that Snowden is guilty

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Russian human rights activists met in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport with Edward Snowden, who expressed his desire to seek political asylum in Russia, apparently, because he has poor chances to get to some other country any time soon, political scientist Boris Mezhuyev writes in the Izvestia newspaper. “He has no international passport, and it is difficult for him to turn to various charitable organisations such as the Red Cross, because he is somewhat limited in movement. Therefore, he is likely to remain in the country, the more so that the human rights defenders that were present at the meeting with Snowden in general were willing to help him find an asylum,” he said.

However, there are also other human rights activists in Russia who are convinced that Snowden is guilty, and since he is guilty before the secret services of his country, Russia should not defend him, the political scientist notes, at the same time recognising that “this view is still not too popular.”

Boris Mezhuyev believes that Snowden should be given an asylum. “Realising that the same thing will be done in any Western country, if some national telltale (a whistleblower, according to the Americans) who disclosed dangerous state secrets ever tries to seek an asylum in it. And I’m afraid that nobody will even demand from him to stop anti-Russian state activities,” he said.

Political analyst Kirill Benediktov believes that the willingness of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia to provide an asylum to the fugitive testifies to serious changes in Latin America. “The region, which the powerful United States is accustomed to considering as its ‘backyard’ is gaining strength and is becoming an independent player on the ‘grand chessboard,’” he said. “This region is very heterogeneous, but Latin America generally has no special liking for its rich northern neighbour.”

The complete breaking down of stereotypes is happening, writes Benediktov. “The United States won the Cold War because it was (or seemed to be) the ideal of freedom, a shining city on a hill. And to the south of this citadel of liberty there was the territory of ··dictatorial regimes, reserves of bloody juntas, the kingdoms of the ‘Black Colonels,’ which were sometimes overthrown by the envoys of the Good Empire. But that was yesterday,” the analyst stresses.

“Today - the ‘humanitarian territory’ is against the Empire. The South is against the North. Liberty against total control,” Kirill Benediktov believes.

After European countries closed their airspace to the plane of the Bolivian president (somebody told the Americans that Snowden who is secretly transported from Moscow might be on board, and they used all the available levers), and the Austrians held Morales at Vienna airport for more than 12 hours, Latin America exploded.

“Snowden has become an accelerator to the process that has been latently smouldering for years. The confrontation between the pro-left South and the imperialist North is acquiring more visible and acute forms,” he said.


Russia's Public Chamber, HRC join debate on internet regulation


The Russian Public Chamber and the RF Presidential Human Rights Council (HRC) have started the discussion of the concept of regulation of the Internet, the Kommersant daily reports.

Head of the subcommittee on the Internet and e-democracy development at the State Duma lower house of parliament Robert Schlegel (United Russia party turned to the Public Chamber members with a request to discuss and support the “Concept of legal relations arising from the use of the Internet in Russia.” Schlegel was the initiator of the Concept. The Concept highlights the directions that require regulation: specification of the conceptual framework, determining the limits of responsibility of online media, the mechanisms of “direct democracy” and so on. The task of the Concept, Robert Schlegel told the Kommersant daily, is exactly to “prevent situational regulation of the industry.” But instead of discussing the Concept, he said, the Public Chamber members first of all were criticising the existing norms.

Thus, member of the Public Chamber, editor-in-chief of the Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP) newspaper Vladimir Sungorkin spoke about the blocking by the Prosecutor’s Office of the newspaper’s websites based on the law on the protection of children from harmful information in Ulyanovsk and the Trans-Baikal Territory.

Head of Public Chamber’s inter-commission group for the media development Dmitry Biryukov said that amendments to Article 152 of the RF Civil Code, according to which a newspaper’s whole circulation may be destroyed for the publication of “untrue” information or the information “tarnishing the reputation” of a citizen, as well as for the interference with a person’s private life, will come into force on October 1. “It’s a good opportunity for corruption,” he said. “It will be even easier to block information on the Internet,” he is quoted by the Kommersant daily.

Member of the Public Chamber Nikolai Svanidze sees in this a dangerous “political bias” and “an attempt to over-regulate the activities of the Internet and the media.”

Head of the Russian Presidential HRC Mikhail Fedotov noted that the current efforts to regulate anything on the Internet “can be characterised as chaotic and unsystematic.” At the same time, many of the terms used in relation to the Internet, “have no legal definition,” and therefore it is necessary to legislatively define the basic concepts and the limits of government regulation in this sphere.

The concept of draft laws on the regulation of the Internet will be discussed at the next joint meeting of the Public Chamber and the HRC and at a meeting with members of the State Duma, which is scheduled for early September.

The idea of the Internet regulation is not unanimously supported, Dmitry Biryukov noted, but it is obvious that the mood is changing: “Just five years ago, the Internet community was unanimous: we do not need anything, we can manage ourselves. But as a result they have failed and got a rather strict law, and not the only one.”

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