Snowden’s “lawyer” Anatoly Kuchenera is a mouthpiece in the true mafia tradition. His alleged principal, Snowden, is silent. Kuchenera does all the talking. (Actually, Putin is the real principal here.)
For some reason, whenever I read Kuchenera’s name, the song “La Cuckaracha” pops into my head. Go figure.
Since he is the only source of information about Snowden, and since reporters will slant their coverage to ensure access to the sole source, Kuchenera has received very little critical scrutiny. There are idiotic pieces like this one: “Kuchenera Suspected of Links to Kremlin.”
Suspected? Who knew?
The NYT reporter credulously regurgitates pearls like this:
“This is in the realm of big politics,” Kucherena said. He added, though, that Snowden’s appeal was a purely legal matter that would prevail on the merits.
“I am a lawyer. I don’t want to be involved in big politics,” he added.
Tell us another one. Yeah. Purely legal matter. Politics have nothing to do with it. Kuchenera doesn’t do politics. Uh-huh. He’s clearly a made man in Russian politics.
Kuchenera has played his part in this drama with aplomb. Case in point. He has made a big deal out of his claim that Snowden hasn’t had a change of clothes in over a month. All to perpetuate the fantasy that he has been holed up in SVO, and completely on his own, all this time.
This is about the only article that calls bullshit on the charade being played out in Russia. It quotes Andrei Soldatov, a journalist who has written extensively about the “New Nobility”-the siloviki who have restored the Russian security state, and made themselves rich and powerful in the process.
Soldatov knows intimately the ways of the FSB and GRU, and describes the reality of the Snowden situation exactly:
The asylum decision gives Russia cover to depict itself as a defender of human rights, pointing a finger to deflect criticism of its own poor record on rights including free speech. But the secrecy that surrounded Snowden’s time at the Moscow airport and his unwillingness so far to talk to the press indicates he is being controlled by Russian intelligence, Andrei Soldatov, a Russian journalist who co-authored a book on the Russian intelligence services said.
“Does he have independent sources of information and communication? My impression is that he has none, which means he’s not his own master,” Soldatov said.
He said Kucherena’s statements about concerns for Snowden’s safety do not hold water.
“We are all perfectly aware that Snowden, who has just received asylum, does not face any danger in Russia,” Soldatov said. “American intelligence does not kidnap or assassinate people in Russia, that’s a fact. This is a just a pretext.”
One of the reasons for keeping Snowden isolated may be to prevent him from speaking about the people he met and what really happened to him during the 39 days he spent in the airport’s transit zone, Soldatov said. For the same reason, Soldatov said he expected Russian authorities to find a job for Snowden that will prevent him from having contacts with journalists.
All absolutely true. Especially calling bull on Kuchenera.
Another pointed clue, this one from Kuchenera himself, showing that Russia has decided to keep Snowden under its tight control:
It was Kucherena who counselled Snowden to abandon his appeals for political asylum in more than 20 other countries, arguing that they had no legal standing while he remained on Russian soil.
“No legal standing.” More bullshit-and in exact contradiction to what Putin was saying (“he should go”) through most of the SVO kabuki theater. Instead, Snowden was told fuggedaboutit. You’re staying here, boy. Kuchenera was the messenger. Perhaps he “persuaded” Snowden through legal legedermain. But if that had failed, harsher persuasive methods would have been employed. The point being that the decision was not Snowden’s to make. (Providing support for my argument that the US should have called Putin’s bluff and said that Snowden was free to travel to Venezuela. Now there is sufficient ambiguity that the credulous will be gulled by the Russians.)
Kuchenera has willing accomplices in the West, notably at outlets like the Guardian and various German media. This Guardian piece is especially egregious, claiming Putin had no choice but to offer Snowden asylum. The writer-a Russian-American who talks about “my government” in critical tones and about Russia’s in soft, sympathetic ones-makes it sound like Snowden was some valuable piece of flotsam that washed up on Russian shores, to be discovered by beachcomber Vova, who is just playing finders-keepers, and is compelled to protect Snowden. Because it was the “moral thing” to do:
With Snowden, the Kremlin did the moral thing – and the moral thing also happened to be the only thing the Kremlin could do in this instance. Essentially denied safe passage to Latin America, Snowden was marooned, and letting him languish in Sheremetyevo indefinitely would have dented the Kremlin’s credibility at home and abroad
Yeah. Putin puts morality first. Spare me.
And please. The idea that Snowden could just fly into Moscow without the knowledge, and indeed, the connivance, of the Russian security forces is beyond risible. There is some question of when Russian security forces took control of Snowden. Some (like Catherine Fitzpatrick, I believe) suspect that Snowden was (wittingly or unwittingly) a Russian asset while in Hawaii. I am not of that view, but now I have little doubt that once he boarded that Aeroflot plane bound for Moscow from Hong Kong, he was little more than a fly caught in Putin’s web.
And he will remain in that web for, well, pretty much forever. If he had returned to the US, Snowden’s sentence would have been measured in years. Once he chose Russia, the sentence is life.