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Ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden on Wednesday did not receive a certificate from the Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS), which would allow him to leave Sheremetyevo Airport. Member of the Russia's Public Chamber, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena explained this fact by the Russian red tape peculiarities and stated that the fugitive is determined to stay in Russia for permanent residence. Meanwhile, the United States requested an explanation from Russia over the status of Snowden.
On Wednesday, the term during which the Federal Migration Service of Russia was to decide whether to accept for consideration Snowden’s request for temporary asylum in Russia, expired, the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper writes. Toward the end of the day it became known that the application is accepted. And the controversial whistleblower seemed to have picked up his things from personnel recreation room in the airport’s transit area and filled all the necessary forms for crossing the border. However, journalists were awaiting him to no avail. Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who on Wednesday visited the “Sheremetyevo inmate,” said that the FMS certificate, which a foreigner needs to legally enter the territory of the Russian Federation, is not ready yet. So Snowden will have to stay at the airport for some time.
Kucherena said he has brought Snowden clean clothes and Chekhov and Dostoevsky books, the Kommersant daily writes. He also said that the American would like to stay in Russia, in order to “see the country,” to find a job here and learn the Russian language.
Deputy head of the Federal Migration Service Vladimir Volokh told the newspaper that the certificate has not been issued because “it is a very difficult case.” According to him, the certificate in itself “is not the main thing” - it must be accompanied by the “certificate of consideration of the request on the merits,” it is a document “that is similar to a passport,” with the photo. “It confirms the identity of the foreigner for the duration of the procedures in the territory of the Russian Federation,” the Kommersant daily writes.
Getting both documents, Snowden, according to Volokh, will be able either to stay in the transit zone until the asylum request matter is finally settled or with the permission of the Federal Migration Service and the Border Guard Service to move into one of three temporary accommodation centres in Russia. The consideration of his application for asylum can take up to three months. Under the law, the FMS has the right to extend this procedure for another three months. During this period, the agency staff members are to collect the evidence base on the request.
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a briefing in Washington that the United States believes that in relations with Russia there have been already precedents that allow the US side to seek Snowden’s extradition, the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper writes. “It is our view that Mr. Snowden should be expelled and returned to the United States” where he will face charges. There are sufficient legal grounds for that, he noted. However, Russia has doubts over such legal grounds in connection with the Snowden case: Washington in this situation is confusing the notions of extradition and routine deportation of foreigners who have violated US laws.
“It is clear that America has never given to Russia our fugitive spies, and Russia will never give America a fugitive American spy,” Director of the Institute of USA and Canada Studies, Academician Sergei Rogov told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper. “But the thing is that Snowden has come to Russia as an uninvited guest, and his presence here creates very serious problems. Putin says in plain language that we do not want to be on the side of Snowden in his conflict with the US authorities. The President said that we have our national interests, and the case of Snowden should not hinder the development of Russian-American dialogue. But how we can solve the problem without losing face? This is a task that requires some legal manoeuvre.”
Political analyst, an expert in the field of international relations Fyodor Lukyanov commented on the situation to the Novye Izvestia newspaper. He believes that Snowden will stay in Russia because he has nowhere to go: Latin American countries do not seem to be very eager to receive him, and it is also not clear how he could get to Latin America?
“This affair certainly does not contribute to the Russian-US relations improvement. And apparently the American side is not going to (so far, at least) to soft-pedal it. It may be said that the Obama administration has taken a principled stand. But I don’t think this will fatally damage the already quite sour Russian-American relations. Although this affair will hinder any possible progress,” Lukyanov said.
He also said that the situation is not clear for all the parties involved in the event. And the most important thing is that the Russian authorities “do not quite understand” what they should do with Snowden, because he was not at all expected to turn up in Russia.
ONF to become alternative source of information for Kremlin
The All-Russia People’s Front (ONF) has determined the mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the Russian President’s decrees. The Izvestia newspaper writes that the organisation will be collecting statistics and complaints in every region so that the presidential administration could compare the figures submitted by the ministries and governors, with the statistics received “from the people.” Thus, the Kremlin will get an alternative source of information on how the president’s orders are implemented in the regions.
The ONF leadership told the Izvestia newspaper the movement’s regional branches with the assistance of Russians will be collecting data on the implementation of the orders of the Russian President (for example, orders demanding to increase salaries to teachers and workers of the healthcare system). After that the data will be sent to one of the 10 monitoring centres, each of which is responsible for its own sphere: education, housing and utilities sector, transportation, etc. Next, the collected data will be transferred to the ONF central office, which will decide what to do to fix any given problem. In addition to the provision of information to the head of state, it may put forward legislative initiatives to resolve the situation.
“The main task is to get the most complete information, for which direct links with regional organisations will be established,” the source told the newspaper. “In fact, we are organising an alternative source of information for the authorities. A nice report of the executive authority representatives is one thing, and the real opinion of Russians - is another.
Members of the State Duma lower house of parliament from the United Russia party, a member of the All-Russia People’s Front Valery Trapeznikov said that getting the information from the region’s residents, not from official sources, will be a particularly important point in the monitoring sphere. “In general, it will be a real mechanism. All monitoring attempts without a normal, well-functioning scheme, a chain - are just needless PR,” Trapeznikov said.
However, the newspaper notes, despite the fact that the ONF has not started full-scale operation, its participants have already been able to influence the decisions made by federal authorities. In late June, representatives of the People’s Front came out against the plans of the RF Labour Ministry and the State Duma Committee on Labour to limit the term of easing the tax burden for individual entrepreneurs. As a result, the ONF managed to start a public debate on the issue and extend the term of exemption measures, as well as to simplify the reporting procedure for individual entrepreneurs.