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News Analysis: Russia, U.S. want to remove Snowden as eyewinker

By Han Liang, Igor Serebyany (Xinhua)

15:55, July 17, 2013

MOSCOW, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Fugitive U.S. intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden filed Tuesday an official request for temporary asylum in Russia, creating a dilemma for the country: to refuse his request against humanitarianism or irritate its U.S. partner by granting him asylum.

But local experts said Russia is only too anxious to get the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, who has marooned in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for weeks, out of its territory as the United States wants to remove him.


After a three-week long "catch me if you can" drama, the meeting called by Snowden last Friday in his hideout and the latest asylum request made the saga even harder to predict.

According to his legal adviser Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden has yet made up his mind to go for Latin America after receiving temporary asylum in Russia.

President Vladimir Putin made it clear that Moscow is not going to harm its relations with Washington, and that Snowden could only continue with his human rights activities "without our involvement."

Local experts said the Kremlin adopted a rather coolish attitude toward Snowden, trying not to harm its relationship with Washington as well as its own interests.

Calling Snowden "a transit passenger" who had arrived in Russia without invitation, Putin said the U.S. authorities scared off all other countries and blocked the 29-year-old whistleblower on Russian soil.

Indeed, Snowden would not likely harm U.S.-Russia relations any seriously, local experts said. On the opposite, the two countries may have found a common enemy which usually moves them closer.

"Both Moscow and Washington understand that Snowden is not a person as grand so to affect bilateral relations. Both Putin and (his U.S. counterpart Barack) Obama are irritated with Snowden's existence, though for different reasons. So they both look for (a) mutually acceptable way to remove that eyewinker," Alexei Malashenko from Moscow's Carnegie Endowment told Xinhua.

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