Foreign Policy published an article by Shaun Walker, Moscow correspondent of Independent which was bought with thievish KGB common fund on behalf of KGB-FSB general Lebedev. The article describes prospects of living in the capital of Putin's Russia for a FSB prisoner, the captured American dissident Snowden, until the KGB dumps out of him all the information he knows, and he accidentally breaks his neck, falling from stairs.
The article, written in a form of a letter to Edward Snowden, says in particular:
For centuries, foreigners
have had a habit of staying in Russia longer than they intended. The European
architects engaged by Catherine the Great, the tutors who came to school the
19th-century aristocracy's children, and the businessmen who swarmed into
Moscow after the fall of communism -- all arrived in Russia planning on a short
stay and ended up staying for months, years, or the rest of their lives, wooed by
love, money, or the sheer gruesome fantastic-ness of the place.
Your case is pretty
special, Edward. You only came to Moscow for a flight connection, but now find
yourself granted asylum for a minimum of a year. You left Sheremetyevo Airport
with a grin yesterday, with a stealth wholly in line with the opaque mystery of
your five-week stay inside the transit zone. The big question now becomes: What
on Earth are you going to do in Russia?
As a long-standing resident
of Moscow myself, allow me to give you a few tips.
Get used to grumpiness.
It's a decent bet that a smiling Potemkin border guard reserved especially for
arriving US dissidents was detailed to stamp you into Russia for the first
time, but for the rest of us, friendly officials are like unicorns.
They don't exist. Border
guards here almost never say a word, even if you greet them with the chirpiest
"zdravstvuite" ("hello"). Forget about that
verging-on-annoying friendliness one gets from waiters, shop assistants, or
random people in elevators in America.
From here on in it will be
angry glances and accusatory stares, suspicious neighbors and glum shop
workers. The US Justice Department might like to have a few words with you,
but there'll be punishment enough in Moscow. Show up at the grocery store
without exact change to pay for your "doctor's sausage" (don't ask,
Edward, just don't ask) and you'll get an earful of barking abuse.
The exception to this will
be if you end up living in a building with a "concierge," which in
the Moscow incarnation is not a smartly dressed polite man in a suit and hat,
but an inquisitive, squinting babushka who will use a combination of your
comings and goings, the identity of any visitors you might have, and ceaseless
interrogation to put together a complex psychological portrait of you and the
other inhabitants of the building. Think of it as an offline, Soviet version of
the PRISM program.
Moscow, of course, has
spent the past two decades going through wave after wave of change, and if the
angry stares get you down, you can always hire a bike and ride with the
hipsters at Gorky Park, or party with the nouveau riche at Gypsy, where your
newly acquired fame is sure to get you past the strict face control. Indeed,
your lawyer Anatoly Kucherena has said that numerous young Russian damsels have
already expressed an interest in providing you with shelter, and perhaps much,
Anna Chapman, expelled from
the United States as part of a Russian spy ring in 2010, has already proposed
to you via Twitter. With the kind of glamorous life she leads now, though, you
will need to have deep pockets to keep her happy.
Even a coffee can cost
upwards of $ 10 in Moscow, and at the kind of restaurant that someone like
Chapman would enjoy, dinner for two is at least $ 250. (Assuming, of course,
that she shows up to the right location for your date.)
For now, you say you miss
your girlfriend, the acrobatic pole-dancer Lindsay Mills. Perhaps Mills will
travel to Moscow to resurrect your relationship, or perhaps you will join the
long list of expats in Russia whose relationships are wrecked on the rocks of
Aside from what you get up
to on a Friday night, there is also the political issue -- and the rather
obvious and glaring point that you have received political asylum in a country
that does not treat its own whistleblowers in the nicest fashion.
Glenn Greenwald, the
reporter with whom you worked, referred to those who pointed out Russia's own
treatment of whistleblowers or its new anti-gay laws as "drooling
jingoists." I understand, of course, that you were hardly laden down with
options of where to go, and a case can certainly be made that staying in a
country with a dubious record of its own is preferable to returning to the
United States to face charges you believe are unfair.
But what Greenwald seems to
miss, or ignore, is that there is a big difference between grudgingly accepting
Russia as the best of a set of bad options, and actively trumpeting the beacon
of democracy and human rights that is Vladimir Putin's Kremlin. You have
previously said that Russia and other countries that offered you asylum were
"refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they
have earned the respect of the world." Your father went even further,
thanking President Vladimir Putin for his "courage" in offering
asylum to his son.
Whatever drove Putin to
offer you asylum, Edward, it is fairly clear that the former KGB man was not
motivated by a principled stance of support for whistleblowers. Trust me on
that one. The question now is whether you make a few sheepish statements of
thanks to the Kremlin and that's it, or whether you become one of the legion of
infatuated useful idiots, the most notable being the French actor Gérard
Depardieu, who has taken Russian citizenship and struck up a bromance with both
Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya accused of all
manner of human rights abuses.
Entering into the
protection, financial or otherwise, of the Kremlin appears to induce crippling
cases of myopia in many people, whether they be Gallic buffoons enjoying their
alcohol-soaked twilight or Western presenters working for the Kremlin-funded television
station Russia Today.
You come across as a much
sharper individual, Edward. I am sure you have noticed that when it comes to
clandestine surveillance, Russia is not exactly a paragon of democratic
transparency. But perhaps you feel that Russia's woes are none of your
business, and that your fight is with the US authorities only. If so, then
the perfect place for you is indeed Russia Today. The Kremlin-funded channel
would almost certainly be delighted to have you.
When it comes to
America-bashing, nothing is too far out for this channel, which recently
confidently asserted that all recent terrorist attacks on US soil have been
CIA "false-flag" operations, and once ran an op-ed entitled "911
reasons why 9/11 was (probably) an inside job." The channel airs interview
shows fronted by your buddy Julian Assange, and somewhat more unexpectedly,
Larry King. The appearance of The Whistleblower, a weekly show fronted by your
good self, is more than just an outside possibility.
But the Russian authorities
may prefer to keep you quiet. George Blake, the British spy and Soviet agent
who fled to Moscow in 1966, is still only allowed to give interviews when he
has permission from Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, even though he is
now 90 years old.
Your lawyer Kucherena
claimed that you hopped into a normal taxi before heading off to an undisclosed
location to meet American "friends." Who these friends are, and how
you made them, I have no idea, Edward. But there's a fairly good chance that
the Russian security services are keeping several dozen pairs of beady eyes on
If you feel comfortable
enough to walk the streets, and are allowed to, there is much for you to see
and do. There is Red Square and the Kremlin, not to mention Lubyanka, the
imposing building that serves as home of the FSB security services (formerly,
the KGB). But you probably know all about them already. Then there are the
museums, the nightclubs, the delicious Georgian food, and the all-night bars
and clubs. Even a kind of nerdy guy can have a lot of fun on his first weekend
A word of advice, however,
Edward. If you are approached by a man in a blond wig who suggests meeting for
a coffee in the area of Novinsky Boulevard, you should decline politely. And run away, fast.
Department of Monitoring