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Putin Calls U.S. Special Forces 'Unprofessional' for Letting Snowden Slip

Published: May 25, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • Protesters hold masks depicting former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden during a demonstration in Berlin.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

If the U.S. special services had acted professionally, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden would be "rotting in jail," Russian President Vladimir Putin told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Friday.

In his keynote speech at the forum, Putin also referred to Snowden as a "champion of human rights" and said the 30-year-old leaker has not shared any secret information with Russia.

Putin suggested that while handing over intelligence might have been a fair trade for Russia's provision of asylum, Snowden "is not our agent, and gave up no secrets."

Putin blamed the United States for the fact that Snowden is still in Russia. Days after leaking thousands of classified U.S. documents to journalists in Hong Kong last summer, Snowden turned up in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, from where he planned to fly on to a third country. But then, Putin said, the U.S. stepped in.

The U.S. "scared the whole world," Putin said. "Snowden arrived in the transit zone and it turned out that no-one would take him. If they hadn't terrified everyone, he would have successfully taken off, flown to some other country, they would have nabbed him in transit, and he would long ago have been 'rotting' in jail."

"But they scared everyone and he stayed in the transit zone [in Moscow]," Putin said. "And what are we supposed to do? Russia is not a country that gives up champions of human rights."

Earlier this month, Snowden's lawyer said that his client, who fled to Moscow last year after leaking the United States' intelligence-gathering programs, expects his asylum status in Russia to be renewed this June.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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