Total Pageviews

Friday, August 2, 2013

Russian Bloggers Welcome Snowden With Jokes, Praise and Job Offers

Updated, Friday, 11:32 a.m. When the former United States intelligence analyst Edward J. Snowden was finally allowed to leave his limbo in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Thursday with a permit granting him political asylum in Russia, Russian bloggers, activists, entrepreneurs and journalists posted messages on social networks welcoming him to his new home.

The messages mixed praise for his courage in leaking details of the National Security Agency's vast surveillance programs with sardonic asides about his choice to live in a country where life can be nasty, brutish and short for whistle-blowers and democracy activists. Since Mr. Snowden has just started studying Russian, The Lede has translated a selection of the welcome messages into English.

Mark Feygin, a Russian lawyer who defended three members of the activist collective Pussy Riot jailed for a political stunt, wrote on Twitter: “Snowden doesn't quite understand that his acceptance of Russian asylum is the same as his agreeing to receive his inheritance from a Nigerian lawyer by e-mail.”

Pavel Durov, the founder of the most prominent Russian social network, VKontakte, offered Mr. Snowden immediate employment in data security:

Today Edward Snowden - the man that exposed the crimes of the U.S. intelligence agencies against citizens across the globe - received temporary asylum in Russia. At such moments, one feels proud of our country and sadness over U.S. policy - a country that has betrayed the principles that it was once built upon.

We invite Edward to St. Petersburg and will be thrilled if he decides to join our stellar team of programmers at VKontakte. At the end of the day, there is no European Internet company more popular than VK. I think Edward might be interested in protecting the personal data of our millions of users.

Vladimir Varfolomeyev, a host at the radio station Ekho Moskvy, said: “The Russian Federation took the correct decision on Snowden. We cannot give him to the U.S. However, the asylum seeker picked a very odd place of refuge.”

The Russian news site Sputnik & Pogrom joked, “For crimes against the American government, a U.S. court sentenced Snowden to the highest form of punishment - life in Russia.”

In a series of Twitter updates, the ecological activist Yevgenia Chirikova wrote:

I'm happy for Snowden. If he returns to the U.S., torture and death await him. Russia is most certainly better - a huge country, he'll find somewhere to go.

Snowden can be saved not by the Russian government, but by its vastness. Lots of people have saved themselves that way.

If Snowden doesn't want to be a toy in someone else's game, he will lose himself in the endless Russian countryside. God give him strength!

The journalist Maxim Shevchenko suggested that Mr. Snowden, like the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, could soon be given his own talk show on Russia Today, the Kremlin-owned network known for its consistent criticism of the United States government.

The Gruppa Voina Twitter feed, run by Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of the jailed Pussy Riot activist Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, seconded a comment from a blogger who wrote, “Poor Snowden - the guy thinks he's free.”

Ilya Mouzykantskii is a freelance journalist and a New York Times intern in Moscow. Follow him on Twitter @ilyamuz.

Robert Mackey also remixes the news on Twitter @robertmackey.