Russian press hail Snowden asylum move

image captionCommentators in Russia overwhelmingly welcomed the decision to allow Snowden to stay in the country

The Russian press are full of praise for the decision to grant temporary asylum to US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

Analysts and politicians argue that the country would have lost face if he had been handed over to the Americans. They do not foresee any long-term damage to US-Russian relations.

"Edward Snowden ahead of Barack Obama," reads the headline of heavyweight business daily Kommersant, while state-owned Rossiyskaya Gazeta predicts that "He'll find a place to live, a job and a bride".

'Majority support'

"Pollsters report that most Russian citizens support the actions of... Edward Snowden and the idea of granting him asylum in Russia," says pro-government daily Izvestia.

"Support for Snowden and condemnation of his persecution by the American authorities are due less to anti-Americanism among respondents and more to the fact that... [he] placed protecting human rights ahead of his own government's interests," Aleksey Grazhdankin, deputy director of research company Levada Centre, tells the paper.

"Edward Snowden became outraged by the evil behaviour of the country where he was born. And he rebelled," says veteran opposition politician Edward Limonov in a commentary for the same daily. "Welcome to Russia, Edward! We are glad to have you."

Meanwhile centrist daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta quotes Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva as saying: "I am happy... that Snowden has been granted asylum in our country."

'Corporate ethics'

Kommersant says Duma deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov explained Moscow's motivation when he said: "Any other decision would mean that Russia would lose face. If we didn't give Snowden asylum, Russia would no longer be factored into decision-making, especially by the Americans."

The same paper acknowledges that US President Barack Obama may cancel a planned September visit to Russia over the Snowden case.

But it quotes Moscow Carnegie Centre director Dmitry Trenin as saying that "this puts President Obama in a difficult situation" because it "seriously narrows the base that the USA can draw on to continue to talk with Russia".

The Moskovsky Komsomolets tabloid quotes Bakhrom Ismailov, an expert in migration law, as saying that Putin decided against giving Mr Snowden full political asylum - which requires a presidential decree - in order to avoid "falling out with the White House".

However, analyst Nikolay Zlobin is quoted as saying the president's move was conditioned by his own former career as a spy: "For him, Snowden is a traitor at least as far as corporate ethics go. He would be seen as a traitor in any country... This is why Putin was so careful in his comments."

Job offer

Two business dailies report that Mr Snowden has been offered a job at the popular social networking site vKontakte by its owner, Pavel Durov.

Vedomosti says that "vKontakte could now become an enemy of the USA". It quotes IT expert Igor Ashmanov as saying that, while the move may cause problems with business in the USA, it is "awesome global publicity".

RBK Daily says that if Snowden takes up the offer to join the "star-studded team of programmers", the 30-year-old could prove to be vKontakte's oldest employee since "the average age of staff there is 22".

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