Vlad the Emancipator
Quick quiz. This quote --
“I can’t point to any country of the world today that is a model for the rest of the world, except perhaps for Russia, which has just taken the very important and frankly necessary step of..."
-- can be correctly completed as follows:
- "...acting as an information clearinghouse and safe-harbor for crusading journalists around the world." -- Human Rights Watch executive vice president, Omega Peril.
- "...providing asylum Edward Snowden, one of the world's great heroes of free speech who is being ruthlessly hunted by an outlaw American government." -- Glenn Greenwald
- "...criminalizing homosexual propaganda to protect the society from being ‘homosexualzed.’” Scott Lively, American conservative activist largely credited for inspiring legislation in Uganda that would impose the death penalty on homosexuals.
..."Russians do not want to follow America's reckless and decadent promotion of gender confusion, sexual perversion, and anti-biblical ideologies to youth," Peter LaBarbera, of the outfit Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, proclaimed on his website.
"You admire some of the things they're doing in Russia against propaganda," Austin Ruse, president of the U.S.-based Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, told the Associated Press last month, before lamenting, “on the other hand, you know it would be impossible to do that here.” Ruse recently traveled to Russia, and wrote a piece for the Daily Caller entitled, “Putin is not the gay bogeyman,” in which he defended the draconian legislation.
And no, Putin's Russia is not exactly known as a beacon of civility towards nosy journalists either ("Russian Journalist Murdered: Is Russia's Press Freedom Dead?")
And while some people may be momentarily stunned by the sight of the world's most famous leaker, privacy-advocate and possessor of "...enough information to cause more harm to the US government in a single minute than any other person has ever had" having his luggage red-capped to his new digs by Putin's notoriously friendly and hospitable FSB, anyone who had troubled to notice whose legal services Mr. Snowden retained while stuck in transit area limbo doing the June Sky Mall sudoku for the 100th time will not be too surprised by his latest change--of-address:
Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer who helped Snowden file an application for asylum in Russia earlier Tuesday, told AFP the fugitive former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor was happy with his treatment at the airport.
Kucherena said he met Snowden at the airport on Tuesday to file the asylum request, with a translator the only other person present.
A supporter of President Vladimir Putin who supported Putin's election campaign last year, Kucherena also has a legal practice in Moscow that takes on high-profile cases.
He also sits on the "public council" of the Federal Security Service (FSB), which was created by Putin in 2006.But wait.
According to its website, the council works to "develop a relationship" between the security service and the public. Its fifteen members have to be approved by the head of the FSB.
Snowden has also retained a Russian lawyer: a man named Anatoly Kucherena. Fine, in and of itself. The man needs a lawyer. But it’s an utterly bizarre move considering that Kucherena reportedly sits on the Public Council for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Until 1995, the FSB was known as the Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (FSK). Before that, it was two agencies: the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and the Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information (FAPSI). And before that? It was the Committee of State Security. The acronym: KGB.In other words, Snowden, who claims to be highly suspicious if not totally disdainful of spy agencies, has hired a lawyer with direct ties to the spy agency formerly known as the KGB. But there’s more. Kucherena is connected with President Vladimir Putin, who, in turn, was a lieutenant colonel with the KGB earlier in his career and, to date, doesn’t have a stellar human rights record. Kucherena was also the lawyer for a pro-Putin filmmaker named Nikita Mikhalkov who publicly supported a plan for Putin to remain in office even after his term had expired.There’s still more. Kucherena is the founder of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, a conservative think-tank that was established in part by the Krelim as a PR front. The institute is essentially a form of pay-back against western nations that have questioned Russia’s elections and human rights record. It’s not a surprise considering how Kucherena has been critical of protesters who called for the overturning of dubious election results.On top of all of that, Kucherena has expressed public support for banning internet anonymizers: software that’s used to mask a user’s IP address. This is particularly hilarious considering how Snowden and his acolytes have probably used similar technology, as well as encryption, to safeguard their privacy.And now he’s Snowden’s lawyer...
Of course the parts of this drama which focus on NSA surveillance and the need for FISA court reform remain important and consequential. As for the rest of it, I will content myself by sitting here quietly and watching to see just how far down this particular rabbit hole the some libertarians (civil and otherwise) are willing to gallop.