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Edward Snowden leaves transit zone

August 02, 2013, 10:39 UTC+3

The U.S. presidential press secretary for the first time officially confirmed the decision of Russian authorities would affect directly Obama’s plans to meet with Putin

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On Thursday, the former US intelligence services analyst Edward Snowden, who had remained at Sheremetyevo airport’s transit zone over a month, received Russia’s temporary asylum for a year.

The Kommersant quotes the State Duma’s deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov explaining Moscow’s reasons for the decision: “If we have not granted the temporary asylum to Snowden, the Russian Federation wouldn’t have been taken into any consideration, and first of all by the Americans.”

Head of the State Duma’s International Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov is sure the crisis originated from the US, the newspaper writes. “Despite Obama’s statement he would not land a plane because of some 29-year-old hacker, they did block Snowden’s way and deprived him of an opportunity of a safe flight, by having stopped the plane of Bolivia’s president. Now, Snowden may remain in Russia forever,” he said.

The Kremlin tried to lower the importance of what had happened: the president’s aide Yuri Ushakov said the case of Snowden is not important enough to influence the relations between the Russian Federation and the United States.

However, Washington, the newspaper continues, thinks differently. The U.S. presidential press secretary for the first time officially confirmed the decision of Russian authorities would affect directly Barack Obama’s plans to meet with Vladimir Putin on the eve of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg.

Nevertheless, American experts say a decision to cancel the meeting would be an “unprecedented step.” Nothing of the kind has happened since the cold war times, said former US National Intelligence Officer, Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University Angela Stent.

The U.S. has been demonstrating how important it is for them to have Snowden undergo the American court. Remember the case with the plane of the Bolivian president, Samuel Charap of the Washington branch of the International Strategic Research Institute told the Kommersant. Whenever the Russian authorities refuse to cooperate on the issue, they send a clear signal: what you care about so much is of no importance to us, we shall do the opposite. With countries of the kind, the U.S. President will not speak or work actively, he said.

The view is shared by Russian experts.

“Moscow’s decision to grant an asylum to Snowden demonstrates that President Putin is not going to pay to U.S. the price he considers to be too high,” Head of the Moscow Carnegie Centre Dmitry Trenin said. “This puts President Obama into a complicated situation. Thus, the basis, where the U.S. may continue speaking to the Russian Federation, is getting narrower. It is not correct the relations between Moscow and Washington will be curtailed, but clearly they will not be able to spread from now on.”

Russia’s oldest human rights activist, leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group Ludmila Alekseyeva welcomed Russia’s decision to grant a temporary asylum to Snowden, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. “I am satisfied with what has happened, and with the fact Snowden has received an asylum in this country,” she said. However, she regretted that “Snowden, who has been fighting for his freedom and rights, turned out to be in the country, where those are not observed.” Alekseyeva added that several days earlier the Moscow Helsinki Group had written a letter to the U.S. President Barack Obama, where they asked not to persecute people like Snowden, who had been fighting for human rights.

The RBC Daily says the CIA’s former employee may find a job for himself. Director General of VKontakte social network Pavel Durov invited Edward Snowden to join the social network’s “team of star IT experts.”

“Today, Edward Snowden - the man, who revealed the crimes of the American intelligence services against people across the world, - has received a temporary asylum in Russia. In times like this, we feel pride for this country and we are sorry about the trend followed by the U.S. - the country, which betrays the principles, which years ago were put into its bases,” Pavel Durov wrote on his page on VKontakte. “We are inviting Edward Snowden to St. Petersburg and will be happy if he joins our team of star IT experts. I believe Edward may find it interesting to be involved in personal data protection of millions of our users.”

VKontakte’s Press Secretary Georgy Lobushkin says Snowden may take any place he likes. But most probably he may prefer the sixth floor, where programmers are working.

The American authorities would not leave alone the company, if it hires Snowden, the Vedomosti quote BNP Paribas’ Chief Economist Yulia Tseplyaeva as saying.

For any company, employment of Snowden would mean problems with doing businesses with the U.S., Managing Partner at Ashmanov and Partners, Igor Ashmanov said. It is doubtful that Snowden, as a special agent with no experience as a programmer, may be of any assistance to VKontakte.

Ashmanov says Durov invited Snowden to tease the Americans and to promote his network abroad: “It is a stormy global PR exercise.”


Vladimir Putin meets with Tajikistan’s President

On Thursday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin received at his Novo-Ogarevo residence his counterpart from Tajikistan - Emomali Rakhmon. The two presidents discussed the future of Russian military base, the situation around migrants and the reduced trade turnover. Rakhmon promised in autumn the country’s parliament would ratify the agreement on conditions for extension of terms for the Russian 201st military base.

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes in response Emomali Rakhmon hopes for the Kremlin’s support both in general and over the upcoming presidential election. Dushanbe may consider the very meeting between Putin and Rakhmon as Moscow’s support at the upcoming presidential election in Tajikistan. And, possibly, he really managed to hear in Moscow what he had expected to hear. However, he had arrived to Moscow exclusively with the affirmation in loyalty, which, in fact, is not based on anything. But, it looks like the Russian side is ready to believe him once again.

“In real politics, Russia now has only one priority - to help preserving current regimes on the post-Soviet space and in countries to the south of Russia, to support them to the utmost, to support them in issues aimed at improvement of their national security. The task to keep the present authorities - regardless of their democratic approaches’ levels and practically regardless of whether they are Russia’s allies in the union relations of Eurasian integration or only support the format of bilateral relations, - comes from the objective to provide Russia’s own security,” the newspaper quotes Head of the Association of Border Cooperation Alexander Sobyanin as saying. First of all this is true about Tajikistan.


“The presidential and the governmental authorities in Moscow realize that Tajikistan is a weak link in the region, and thus Russia will support whatever official Dushanbe is asking for, regarding its security,” the expert said.

Unclear remain the situation around the agreements of the previous year, where Putin and Rakhmon signed an agreement to extend the term for the 201st military base in the territory of Tajikistan to 2042, Alexei Sobyanin said.

Russia has numerous interests in Tajikistan, but he main one is the extension of the agreement on the deployment of the military base, which still had not passed all necessary formalities in Dushanbe, the Komsomolskaya Pravda reports. This was the topic to open Vladimir Putin’s statement for the media. “We have paid special attention to coming into the legal force of the Agreement on extension of the term of the Russian military base in Tajikistan,” the Russian President said. “Russia has completed all necessary procedures, and Tajikistan is close to finish its procedures. We share common understanding that quite soon we shall be able to begin the implementation of this major document.”


Anti-piracy law enters legal force in Russia

On August 1, the “anti- pirate” law, which allows upon court decisions to close websites for illegally placed films, came into legal force. Punishment will be applicable only distributers of the pirate content. Authorities will block an IP address, which may host thousand other resources. The law allows suspending work of a resource even if it only contains a link to a pirate resource. Russia’s Pirate Party organized protests against the law. On Thursday, about 2,000 sites did not work. The site of the Russian public initiative has collected over 60,000 votes against the law. Those who do not admit the law have begun collecting signatures to repeal the law. On Thursday, the Internet site of Roskomnadzor, which should have registered complaints from copyright holders, was down.

Before the anti-pirate law came into force in Russia, the right holders had been losing about three billion dollars a year, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

The Business Software Alliance /BSA/ says only in this market segment in 2011 the damage from unlicensed software made $63.4 billion. The share of this country was $3.2 billion. On the black list, Russia keeps the third place following U.S. and China.

BSA’s analysts say that the share of pirate software in Russia in 2011 made 63% of the entire installed software. The damage, which films’ literature’s and music’s copyright holders are fixing is even higher. The experts say their losses reach $300 billion a year.

Experts speak about the anti-pirate law as about a benchmark. However, besides the advantages, they highlight possible negative consequences. Zlatcombank’s CEO Alexei Shitov did not rule out the initiative, which is actually aimed to protect rights, may turn out to become censorship, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports. “The law is not complete, as many details are not included there. Thus, it will not be implemented effectively. The regulation, which the law’s authors offer, is fighting not pirates, but internet users on the whole. Should they want, pirates will always be able to find ways to get over a block,” Shitov said.

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