What Edward Snowden Can Expect in Russia

The lovely refugee center in the Ural Mountains awaits
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A model Russian refugee center

Now that NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been granted asylum in Russia, the Kremlin’s official news source, Russia Today, tells us what he can expect in his new life.

Invasive medical tests, a placement in a refugee center, and round-the-clock security observation are just some of the things whistleblower Edward Snowden could face in the coming weeks, if he finally steps out from the confines of a Moscow airport.

Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS) can take up to three months to consider an application - which Snowden submitted last week - although it is unlikely that the 30-year-old American’s papers have been lodged at the bottom of a pile on an immigration official’s table.

Prominent lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who has served as the go-between for Snowden, told RT on Monday that he is “impatiently awaiting news that could come any time,” though declined to provide specifics. FMS officials have stated that an answer could be given within one working week, but say they first have to identify whether Edward Snowden is who he says he is, as his passport has been annulled, and they currently know his name “only from his own statements.”

If the application is accepted and Snowden is given the 12-month temporary asylum that enables him to leave the transit area of Sheremetyevo airport, he will have to undergo a daunting medical assessment designed especially for immigrants. Along with a standard screening for HIV and tuberculosis, he will also be checked for leprosy and the rare sexually-transmitted disease chancroid. Russian Health Ministry officials have said that they are ready to administer the tests at a moment’s notice, but so far have not been asked to do so by Snowden.

After Snowden registers his whereabouts with the police - to avoid risking a $150 fine - he will be free to apply for placement in a processing facility for asylum seekers. There are no such facilities in Moscow, and ones in the vicinity have been flooded with refugees escaping the Syrian conflict. Elena Ryabinina, a human rights lawyer who works with asylum seekers, told gazeta.ru newspaper that most of her clients get offered a bed in a center near Perm - a city by the Ural mountains, more than 1,000 km east of Moscow.

Glenn Greenwald, meanwhile, has a new book deal.

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