Stanislawski: Glasnost & perestroika in the US

IMGP5544Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, stated on August 3rd that the US administration is “extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step?. And all this mess despite Washington?s official and private requests to expel him, he added.

What is this major step, which the Russian government took, causing the White House main resident drown in dismay? Moscow granted temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. For the last five weeks his fate was pretty much uncertain. After he had his passport canceled right before getting to the pass-control desk on the Sheremietievo airport on June 23rd he had no other choice, but to stay in the transit zone.

It took five weeks for the Russian government to take this oh so disappointing step and let the man legally cross the border of the Russian Federation. Obama and Co. would have of course preferred to see FSB (Russian secret service) agents or border police functionaries kidnap Snowden and safely escort him either to the US embassy in Moscow or transfer him back on the nearest flight (or at least have him imprisoned!). None of this happened and there was no chance for things unfolding that way. If Obama?s advisers had some geopolitical instinct or feeling (let alone correct in-depth analysis of the situation) they would have saved his administration many embarrassing moments. The pressure on Russia to simply hand Snowden over upon some official statement (even without saying ?please?) shows nothing more or less, but a total detachment from the current reality.

Snowden used the five weeks to contact various NGOs in Russia and employ — in the most American manner — a good and effective lawyer. As we see now Anatolyi Kucherena plays the role of his temporary PR as well. In a recent interview for he stated the following:

Since I became [Snowden?s] legal representative, we?ve been asking ? both through the [US] embassy and I, personally, through the media ? ?Please, make a clear reference to a provision of law that would allow us to turn him over to you.’ Thus far we did not receive any response. [Russia] is not a colony of the US, and we cannot be told ?Give him to us!? ? he added.

In fact Kucherena skipped some embarrassing details explaining the situation. With the course of time US requests became more and more ridiculous. While knowing there is no legal basis for enforced return of Edward Snowden to America they tried alternative forms of ?diplomatic pressure?. For expample the US Ambassador in Russia, Michael McFaul started? tweeting to Russian authorities. He must have obviously thought this might be the way to get what his principals so much desire. He posted a short explanation that the US does not really want Snowden?s extradition, but a kind of return and he requested that the Russian authorities collaborate effectively. After the Russian Ministry of Justice officials figured out that they had been approached in such a bizarre manner they sent an official letter to Mr McFaul enlighting him that in the international law such term as ?enforced return? does not really exist and if there is any legal basis for such an action on the part of the Russian authorities it should be pointed out in a proper form rather than on ambassador?s Twitter profile. Ridiculous incidents like this are numerous.

However, what deserves most attention is the signal which the American government sent to Snowden himself trying to soften him, make him feel homesick and eventually return to the US.

Eric Holder, US attorney general, publicly stated a few days ago that he will not seek death penalty for Edward Snowden should he be extradited or ?returned?. This must have surely deeply touched Snowden and made his nights sleepless. ?Well, they shall not kill me… How about I go back then?? ? he surely contemplated.

But wait a second…

If we look at it historically and politically. Is it not a great leap forward? The United States main prosecutor has just announced that the political enemies of the government will not be killed!

Perhaps this truly revolutionary principle will be extended to those who reveal illegal activities on the part of the government (which is what Snowden has in fact done)?

I mean, WOW!

A real glasnost and perestroika in the United States! More than two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union the same tendencies have now reached the other side of the ocean.

Good goin? America! Good goin?…


Boyan Stanislavski

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