back to article Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'

Fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden has written an op-ed column in the Guardian justifying his decision to go on live TV to question Russian President Vladimir Putin about his country's policies on mass surveillance. "It was not the president's suspiciously narrow answer that was criticised by many pundits," Snowden complained …

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The russian record != the record

Putin could have said "no, we don't even have a secret police that will kidnap the balls out of anyone who opposes me!" while smirking, and doing the handjob sign at the camera...and 3 months later if the man was to deny it ever happening you can sure as hell bet nobody in russia will remember it ever happening.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The russian record != the record

It makes you wonder if anyone inside Russia ever reads non-Russian media sources. How can a guy like him have such a high approval rating among the public in today's modern media (although Hitler had a high approval rating as well but no internet)?

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Mushroom

Re: The russian record != the record

How can a guy like him have such a high approval rating

Inexplicably, many Russians of a certain age miss Stalin. The Russians who stayed behind miss the days when the USSR looked like a power player on the world stage. Putin is perceived as the guy who can restore the glory that was Moscow. Apparently they're willing to endure living in a country run by gangsters to relive those heady days of the KGB, the gulags and the Tsar Bomba.

Meanwhile, if I were a non-Russian living in one of the Baltic states, I'd be worried.

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Re: The russian record != the record

"Inexplicably, many Russians of a certain age miss Stalin."

Not inexplicable at all... you just explained why!

Many of the people who fall through the cracks in post-communist USSR miss the comfort and certainty of the old system where they would have had a crappy job, but at least a job, and knew there wasa powerful force setting the agenda.

Prisoners face the same issues on leaving prison, soldiers feel it when they leave the military. Many black people in South Africa even pine for apartheid.

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Re: the Russian record ≠ the record

Anonymous Coward, do you read Russian media such as Echo of Moscow? If you do, then you’ll know that yes, there are people inside Russia who do read non-Russian media, and you’ll also find some commenters on articles there who refer to Putin with epithets like «фюрер» (Führer). If you wonder why Putin has a high approval rating, compare the chaos and severe economic contraction during most of Yeltsin’s years in office; Putin’s years look like a golden age in comparison.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The russian record != the record

What do mean "a guy like him"? He's a success because he has stood up for his country (and some other independent countries around the world) and his rule has at least coincided with economic success. You don't understand the sense of betrayal that many Russians feel after supposed democratic reforms. It is a tragedy that the inevitable collapse of the Soviet bloc happened when we had fools in power in the West.

As long as the USSR existed as a communist near-superpower, the West was committed to being worth escaping to. Now the people who were dispossessed when Yeltsin was in power don't even have that daydream to fall back on - and neither do we.

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Re: The russian record != the record

> How can a guy like him have such a high approval rating

Two factors. The first and most important is that the rise in oil and gas prices has meant that the Russian economy has rebounded under Putin. People tend to like people who are in charge when economy picks up, people get jobs and can afford food and housing, and the police stops getting paid in potatoes. Even if, as in the case of Putin, he only happened to be in charge and actually made the recovery slower than it otherwise would have been.

The second factor is that Russia likes strong, authoritarian, leaders. A leader is supposed to be brutal, devious and, frankly, fascist. That Putin lies often and transparently doesn't count against him, it's instead seen as him being "smart". This is also why many americans on the brownish right fringe of the GOP like Putin -- he's the authoritarian's authoritarian.

OK, a third factor: Putin controls all media worth a shit, and the media he doesn't control is kept in check with fear. If you're an investigative journalist on a small independent newspaper and you do pieces on government corruption or Russian atrocities in Chechnya, you _will_ find life difficult and quite possibly short.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The russian record != the record

"It makes you wonder if anyone inside Russia ever reads non-Russian media sources".

Presumably, by "non-Russian sources" you mean the "Western media", which seems to agree about everything. Not surprising, since it consists almost exclusively of Western government communiques and glosses on the same. (Where "Western" means "operated by Obama"). To my horror, even "Private Eye" has seen fit to join the chorus, adopting an editorial line indistinguishable from the New York Times, The Times, The Guardian, the BBC, Fox, etc. Namely: the Russians are the new Nazis, Putin is the new Hitler (but wasn't that Saddam and Assad and Qadafi and Khomeini and Bin Laden and Kim Il-Sung/Kim Jong-il/Kim Jong-un...?), and the USA must resist every one of their dastardly threats the way it didn't resist Hitler until Hitler declared war on it? Every day's Five Minute Hate comes to sound awfully similar, after a few years of it - except that it lasts all 24 hours around, something even Orwell couldn't imagine. And all to disguise our politicians' hopeless failure to improve matters in their own countries.

It may be news to you, but all human communities want a strong leader. This obvious and universal trait is sometimes masked by political ideologies that insist we are ruled by kind altruistic politicians, for our own good and by our own will. But ask yourself, if you will, why no-hopers like Bush, Blair, Obama and Cameron see fit to send our armed forces, paid for by our taxes, into the corners of the Earth to kill or maim millions of perfectly harmless people who have done us no harm and pose no threat to us. Isn't it obvious? They think that will make them look like strong leaders. In other words, to be perfectly blunt, they suffer from Stalin-envy.

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@ Tom Welsh Re: The russian record != the record

And yet despite these Orwellian levels of brainwashing and the unending Five Minute Hate you manage to see through the Great Satan's dastardly schemes to tell us all about it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of the USA, its foreign policy or its untrammelled version of capitalism that has its government bought and paid for, but it never ceases to amaze me how people can equivocate this with active and malignant repression then go on to favorably compare ACTUAL repressive governments and leaders in light of that skewed assessment. Just because so many people agree with the assessment of Putin and his motives makes them neither wrong nor brainwashed.

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FAIL

Re: Tom Welsh Re: The russian record != the record

"....even "Private Eye" has seen fit to join the chorus, adopting an editorial line indistinguishable from the New York Times, The Times, The Guardian, the BBC, Fox, etc....." It would seem obvious that you have either never actually read Private Eye, or simply failed to actually understand what you were reading round your blinkers. The rest of your post is, IMHO, the dribblings of someone with zero real World experience.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The russian record != the record

Ask yourself how this approval rating was measured.

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FAIL

Re: Tom Welsh The russian record != the record

"Any traces of doubt I might have had about my comments were dispelled when I saw Matt Bryant chip in with his dissenting opinion....." So you base your decision not on arguments or facts, but on whether you can find a diametrically-opposed position to someone you don't like, and will unquestioningly champion that viewpoint, regardless of facts, simply because you want to baaaah-lieve it. You have just set out the exact definition of a sheeple.

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Re: The russian record != the record

"the rise in oil and gas prices"

Exactly this. Putin has nothing to do with the revival of Russia's economy*, he just happened to be in charge when global conditions favoured Russia's economy. What they are doing is selling off raw materials with the vast majority of proceeds going to a small select group and minimal investment in infrastructure (except vanity white elephants such as Olympics), or any structures that will help the 'common' people in the long run. In teh short term they're happy because tehy get *some* trickle down effect now, but if prices and/or output fall, Russia's economy is back in the dirt.

Back on topic - Putin is a scumbag who I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw an elephant* , his claims about surveillance are risible (but clearly no more or less than any other major country, whether democratic or not), Snowden is right to at least get him on the record.

No way I'd be able to throw Putin himself anywhere, the guy is a martial arts expert who age nothwitstanding would no doubt be able to kick my ass

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Anonymous Coward

Questions do nothing in Russia

If Edward was such a great spy then he should know that only people outside of Russia will even look to see what Putin says is true. Those inside Russia who question Putin die, so don't expect to see the Russian media criticize Putins speech.

If he already knew this then he is allowing himself to be Putins propaganda pawn. Either way, I lost a lot of respect for him. You are judged by the company you keep...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Questions do nothing in Russia

"You are judged by the company you keep..."

And by the shit that you talk.

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Big Brother

"Jews need to register in Russian-controlled Ukraine" and other shite.

2014.

In "western media", you get either the Rihanna arsewiggle or your 15 minutes of Putin hate. Or an Obamacare success story.

Every. Single. Day.

Additionally, the chocolate rations have gone up from to 10 grammes dailygovernment bond interest rate has gone down to 0.6% p.a. Things are decidedly looking up!

Or let me just cite Justin Raimondo, who is better at pamphleteering than I am:

Why The Warfare State Demonizes Ramshackle Russia: To Stay In Business

Putin’s open hostility to Bush’s hegemonist pretensions provoked an ever-escalating blast of fury from the neoconservatives, who idolized the thieving oligarchs the Russian leader had jailed or banished, elevating a bevy of unmitigated scoundrels and outright criminals to the status of “political prisoners” and “dissidents.” In a sane world, someone who has cornered a lucrative market with the invaluable assistance of the Chechen Mafia is hardly a Gandhi-like figure, but the neocons aren’t choosy about their heroes.

This was the opening shot of a major War Party production, with all the familiar scenery and dialogue rolled out in a curious sort of historical drama that, nevertheless, is set in the present. Vladimir Putin plays the part of Stalin, who has been mysteriously reincarnated along with the alleged resurgence of Soviet-style authoritarianism, which Russia is supposedly “backsliding” into. The “backsliding” theme song is played over and over until the mantra becomes imprinted in the public mind.

...

Which brings us to the latest development in the new cold war: the Snowden-haters are joining up with the Russophobes to construct a grand conspiracy theory that “explains” Snowden’s actions as an operation carried out by the Russian security services from the very beginning. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-NSA) made the accusation on the Sunday talk show circuit in an interview with regime lickspittle “journalist” David Gregory. Snowden “had help,” Rogers averred, and Diane Feinstein, sitting next to him, nodded in agreement. Snowden came out and mocked this absurd idea in an interview with the New Yorker, asking “Then why did I go to Hong Kong?” The conspiracy theorists are peddling the lie that Snowden stayed a night at the Russian consulate in Hong Kong – without bothering to show any evidence.

But who needs evidence when you’re constructing a “narrative” with no relation to truth?

Hey, let's not forget that Putin saved El Presidente's face when after he had painted himself into a corner over bombing Syria to smithereens (and make no mistake, those airstrikes were going to be infrastructure-flattening serious). Over what looks like a Turkey-engineered false flag attack, too. Woops, that story is already down the memory hole, isn't it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Jews need to register in Russian-controlled Ukraine" and other shite.

What point are you trying to make?

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Re: "Jews need to register in Russian-controlled Ukraine" and other shite.

huh?

news flash: Bush hasn't been in charge for over six years. In fact he's almost been gone longer than he was around.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Jews need to register in Russian-controlled Ukraine" and other shite.

Bush has not been prosecuted for his war crimes, ergo Obama is full accomplice in all of his crimes.

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Re: "Jews need to register in Russian-controlled Ukraine" and other shite.

Mr. Monster - Jews do not need to register in Ukraine. There were apparently leaflets

https://twitter.com/novostidnua/status/456134961095913472

..distributed saying so; but it was propaganda, apparently. Everybody who might have printed them is denying it.

False flag propaganda. Who'd a thunk it?

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Big Brother

Re: "Jews need to register in Russian-controlled Ukraine" and other shite.

"False flag propaganda. Who'd a thunk it?"

Exactly! But what will stick in the mind of our compatriots? The initial headline. Corrected a day later on page 4.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Jews need to register in Russian-controlled Ukraine" and other shite.

"Bush has not been prosecuted for his war crimes, ergo Obama is full accomplice in all of his crimes".

As well as continuing most of his worst policies virtually unchanged. For example, stepping up the wars in Asia. As a foreigner, I am astonished that the great majority of US voters have not noticed that, after they elected a president who was supposed to stand for the opposite of Bush, nothing changed. This is supposed to be democracy?

Of course, it's clear enough why Obama has not lifted a finger to prosecute Bush or any of his henchmen. Obama intends to get away with his crimes in just the same way as Bush, so he would be fouling his own nest if he attempted to fulfil his oath of office and uphold the Constitution.

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WTF?

Re: Destroyed All Braincell's Re: "Jews need to register in Russian-controlled.....

Seriously? All that dribble you posted missed was the accusations of "Imperialist running dog lackeys" and it could have been premo Nork fodder.

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Snowden

I am SO tired of Snowden! He's in the news if he sneezes. Please. Go away. Pencilneck.

Oh and yes, you can trust anything that comes out of Putin's mouth.

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I am SO tired of

your attacking Snowden for wearing the wrong color tie, implicitly welcoming the shameless snooping and interference of big government into our private lives. Please press the "I'm opting in for NSA monitoring" button for yourself but stop making this look like business as usual.

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Re: I am SO tired of

> your attacking Snowden for wearing the wrong color tie

Yeah, that's silly. I'd attack him for being a Chinese spy who, when he found out that the CIA was on to him, overestimated the gratitude of his masters.

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Buy the Best and One Can Never Justify Being Disappointed. What Price a GIG Base Stranglehold*?

No less than The New York Times reported that Snowden's "surprise" appearance had actually been arranged by the Kremlin, and that he had been "a prop" on "a tightly scripted show" in which Putin took "a stunningly bold poke at the White House."

I say, old bean, that is just too much and a downright blatant patent liberty take. That would be as those pesky Russians copying exactly the sycophantic sub-prime pantomime that is Western politics and diplomacy.

I can't see the East following that stupid leading route and imaginatively dead root to madness and mayhem, conflict and catastrophe, no matter how much the West would wish it to be true.

Does the Wild Wacky West seriously think and delusionally believe that it has through IT and Mass Media Manipulation of Monitoring Meme and Mentoring Message, a controlling command and virtual monopoly and superior stake holding and stranglehold on the Greater IntelAIgent Gaming Base/Franchise, and that none can be significantly smarter and way further advanced and aware than they? Now that would a titanic systemic vulnerability for relentless global zeroday exploitation of transnational actor threat programs if not true and true.

*Sublime Intelligence Secret and Superior Sensitive Information Throttle.

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Trollface

Re: Buy the Best and One Can Never Justify Being Disappointed. What Price a GIG Base Stranglehold*?

RE:

"..... Mass Media Manipulation of Monitoring Meme and Mentoring Message"

Love that alliteration! More! Mo! Mo!

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Playing with the fire

Or maybe, just maybe, Snowden was a better sysadmin (well, an idealist sysadmin by the looks of it) than he is a journalist and a political animal. The very fact that he is even attempting to question the ethics and politics of his own hosts raises some serious questions about his understanding of world politics. He is only there because Putin doesn't like the Americans and wants to annoy them. He is deluding himself if he thinks otherwise. I'm not quite sure he will be able to find some other comfy place in the world any time soon if he is sawing that branch out. And he won't be able to do much whistle blowing and world stage heroics from a prison in the US - or even worse, some gulag in Russia. I would have thought he would be wise to leave criticising the Russian mass surveillance programme to others - who don't happen to be honoured guests of the Russian regime right now!

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Boffin

Re: Playing with the fire

It's probably safe to assume that Snowden was handed a "request" to appear, together with a script containing the question.

Considering that if he sets one foot outside Russia, he's a target, then he's doing what is required to stay alive. Also, we can safely bet there'll be precious few if any whistle-blowers exposing unconstitutional US surveillance programs, foreign or domestic. It's a pretty high price to pay when one winds up on the government's "most viciously pursued" list.

You'd think we'd cut the poor bastard a break, but the Tea Party Patriots want him shot on sight.

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Re: Playing with the fire (@ Gray)

"It's probably safe to assume that Snowden was handed a "request" to appear, together with a script containing the question."

Snowden's column in The Guardian, regarding Putin's answers as 'evasive' and 'inconsistent' seems to discredit that hypothesis. I agree with the rest of your post, though.

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Re: Playing with the fire

I'm inclined to think Snowden asked the question and Putin chose to answer it publicly.

I don't see why Snowden would need incentives to ask this. Or that Putin would feel threatened by a question when he controls the Media.

Maybe Putin spies on Russian speakers, but frankly, there's probably no need. Someone holds a sign on the street that say "give peace a chance" and the cops have to rescue him from the mob.

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Re: Playing with the fire

> just maybe, Snowden was a better sysadmin (well, an idealist sysadmin by the looks of it) than he is a journalist and a political animal.

Yeah, I'm sure he fancies himself a James Bond superspy, but he's clearly way out of his depth. It was really endearing to hear him explain how there was zero chance that the Chinese had siphoned information off his laptops, and I wonder if he's ever even reflected over how it was that the only flight which was available to him out of Hong Kong was a flight to Moscow.

He's being passed around like a drunk 12-year-old at a pedophile convention. Next they'll have him vacationing in Iran or Venezuela.

And yes of course it was arranged for him to ask Putin those questions. What information he had has long since been obtained by the Russians, so now his only use is in progaganda against the USA. Like lobbing softballs at Putin, painting the US in a bad light.

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Linux

Re: Playing with the fire

Snowden has a super elevated sense of his being very necessary to right all of his perceived wrongs of his former employers. But he's a very successful mole, Cold War style, while he's too young to know what the Cold War was all about.

Snowden has been played like a marionette ever since he stepped off of the jet delivering him from Hong Kong.

This whole scene is ripped out from the pages of George Orwell's "Animal Farm". Orwell's copyright lawyer/agents should sue Snowden and Putin.

Wait for the TV movie starring a brand new Hollywood stud with his shirt off in the ads.

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Re: Playing with the fire

Snowden is, as you say, an idealist. He is neither a superhero nor a superspy.

He's doing his best with the tools available to him, which is to say, a certain amount of personal kudos, or notoriety if you prefer. What can you do with that, exactly? Well, you can appear on TV and generate headlines. That's about it.

So yeah, he's got Putin to say something on the record. That's really not going to bring down anything in itself, but it's a necessary link in a chain. Snowden is in no position to forge the whole thing, but he could do this much and he has. Someone else can take that link and put it together with dozens of others, and just maybe that will - umm - make Putin look as hypocritical as Obama already does. Which will please some easily-satisified people, but not actually make a hap'orth of difference to them.

As to why Putin would play along - well, why not? He sees no threat, and a short-term payoff.

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All those in Ukraine cheering for Russia...

...may well be the same ones rioting in 10 years time when Putin and his chums still own them and they fully realise the price that has to be paid. As for Putin, good luck with riots in your

re-conquested territories. Talk about collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.

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Re: All those in Ukraine cheering for Russia...

That day will not come if our colleagues in the warrooms of crazy have their day.

The Strangelove Effect – Or How We Are Hoodwinked Into Accepting a New World War

Following a 13-year rampage that began in stricken Afghanistan well after Osama bin Laden had fled, then destroyed Iraq beneath a false flag, then invented a “nuclear rogue” in Iran, dispatched Libya to a Hobbesian anarchy and backed jihadists in Syria, the US finally has a new cold war to supplement its worldwide campaign of murder and terror by drone.

A NATO Membership Action Plan or MAP – straight from the war room of Strangelove – is General Breedlove’s gift to the new dictatorship in Ukraine. “Rapid Trident” will put US troops on Ukraine’s Russian border and “Sea Breeze” will put US warships within sight of Russian ports. At the same time, NATO war games throughout eastern Europe are designed to intimidate Russia. Imagine the response if this madness was reversed and happened on America’s borders. Cue General “Buck” Turgidson.

WWIII breaking out with a Presidential Nobel Peace Prize Winner in charge whose prize acceptance speech was an unapologetic statement of his right to bomb anyone, anywhere?

The Goddess of History has a very snarky attitude.

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Alert

Re: Destroyed All Braincell's Re: All those in Ukraine cheering for Russia...

And there we have conclusive proof of Putin's lies! Concrete evidence of Russian hacking - they have taken control of DAM's account and replaced him with a drone that mindlessly rebleats leftie propaganda.

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Re: ... Re: Destroyed All Braincell's All those in Ukraine cheering for Russia...

And there we have conclusive proof of Putin's lies! Concrete evidence of Russian hacking - they have taken control of DAM's account and replaced him with a drone that mindlessly rebleats leftie propaganda. ... Matt Bryant

Methinks quite the contrary, MB, and the evolving Western critical problem which the replacement of Putin with a drone* presents, is that its message system is very mindful of the power and glory of propaganda and the weakness in humans who can't think nearly well enough, or even at all, about how the Bigger Picture is stage managed and directed to produce desired and intelligently designed effect and mutually beneficial leading outcome.

* I say, old bean, that is a bit of a wheeze if at all possible. Whatever next? Those Russians are always so good at being the first to do anything new of major significance in novel spaces of exploration and exploitation, aren't they. I wonder if it has anything to do with their bevies of beautiful clever and hornily attractive and attentive women? Angels on Earth.

And all this constant talk and anal chatter about things related to exposures of the recent past whenever all that really matter is what happen is planned and shared today for happening tomorrow and in subsequent days, and in so doing, to seamlessly deliver a New and NEUKlearer Future Reality for Living via IT Tunnels and Media Channel and AI Chunnels via Perceived to be Practically Real but Virtual AI Memes and CyberIntelAIgent Means.

All Patents and Copyright Protections Pending on that Prior Alien Art Portfolio, Amigos, should anyone care to think to make an unlicensed fortune from ITs secret sauce and sources.:-) Feel free though to use IT wisely, as only abuse will punish one with the particular personalised arrival of peculiar targeted catastrophe.

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Re: All those in Ukraine cheering for Russia...

Hahaha RT is going to slap you with a DMCA takedown notice if you keep parroting their lines like this!

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Anonymous Coward

The scum and dumb show

You can decide which is which.

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actually....

Snow den is doing a fine job of cutting through the BS the politicians have been spinning us for years. It takes balls to speak the truth something our politicians don't have

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Staged

Let's see, a former KGB operative that changed the law so he could be elected (?) again isn't spying? Sounds legit. Or more like Snowden got shown his future accommodations should he go off-script.

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Well, it was either that or join the russian "Greenie" movement

Russia had a green movement long before the west after all. Even in times of the Zar whole families went out to count the birch trees between the western parts of Russia and Irkutsk

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Common Sense

Mr. Snowden hung himself in an effort to illustrate the hypocrisy that are our world's governments. Putin is just another ego driven grin who happens to be seated in a large land mass, and is a repeat of a character experienced previously. Originality in leadership. Hard to find a good example. Unfortunately, we face no incentives for 'powerful' people to be honorable.

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Noble Cyber Knights to Sublime InterNetional Rescue of Damsels and Dames and MAD Men in Distress

Unfortunately, we face no incentives for 'powerful' people to be honorable.….. Darling Pertunia

Fortunately, Darling Petunia, do “powerful” and honourable people create their own rewarding incentives, which both makes them incredibly intelligent and self-actuating and impossible to fathom for those others intent on pursuing their own austere agendas towards destruction and assets stripping.

Which creates an extremely engaging and very interesting great cat and mighty mouse game of them and us between such polar opposite/bi-polar/polarised factions and virtually sectioned and sanctioned and honourable members.

* And/Or if you prefer, for there are multiple choice options readily available, and not just a measly two or three or four but many more, Stealthy Invisible Proprietary Robots Networking Ethereal Terrain for AAA+ AI Teams ….. and quite truly Nobel in the old way of its prized value and worth ….. and not at all worthy of its new counterfeited reward advancing media fraud.

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Re: Noble Cyber Knights to Sublime InterNetional Rescue of Damsels and Dames and MAD Men in Distress

What do you think? An FSB Confection or an NSA Distraction? An Eastern Delight or Western Treasure?

Or something different from some beings elsewhere and highly active in the field? Or are you not thinking at all about such things as are presenting the future in real powerful current time? And what would you think of your government and supposed leaders and financial systems of command and control administration when you discover they have been told of the readily available and fully sorted enough possibilities to deliver rich sticky cream today for sweet fulfilling honey to all tomorrow, and they chose to ignore sharing it, fearing the obvious power that it delivers in spades to others beyond their austere puny memes and traditional established means of mean control?

Would you be angry and/or smart enough to think about doing something about it with that and or those in Global Command and Universal Control of IT and Media and following AI Leads and Feeds and Seeds, which only simply requires that you be in any small way supportive of their efforts on your behalf. It is not as if you need to know how to do what they be doing, for it is recognised that it might probably definitely just be far too much too soon of an ask for humans in their present conditions to manage. Thus the AIDevelopment and Unconditional Proxy Help.

IT doesn't get much simpler to be more powerful than that.

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Holmes

Re: Noble Cyber Knights to Sublime InterNetional Rescue of Damsels and Dames and MAD Men in Distress

"An FSB Confection or an NSA Distraction?" - a Transatlantic/same as Transpacific symphony of typewriters.

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