7 Things Edward Snowden Should Do in Russia

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Central Buddhist temple in Kalmykia, Russia.

A year is barely enough time to study a country as strange and enormous as Russia. So Edward Snowden, the American whistle-blower who was granted a year of asylum in Russia on July 31, will have to make good use of it if, as his lawyer claims, he wants to “study Russian culture” and travel its nine time zones. So far, there is no clear information on where he would be living or how far he’d actually be allowed to travel. But in case he’s able to take in some sights, TIME compiled a list of seven things he should definitely put on his calendar.

Visit the Duma: Considering the fan club Snowden has developed inside Russia’s parliament – one lawmaker has pledged to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize – it would be rude not to swing by for a visit. In the gift shop on the first floor, he could pick up a token of gratitude, such as a selection of hollowed out books where a parliamentarian might hide his, um, candy, or a nice big rubber stamp. The Duma’s cafeteria, which one whimsical patron once dubbed “the colon of liberty,” also happens to offer the cheapest meal you can find in Moscow outside of a soup kitchen. The prices haven’t changed much since perestroika, so for about 100 rubles ($3.25) Snowden could enjoy a bowl of borsht, a beet-prune-and-mayonnaise salad and a patty of don’t-ask meat fried in sunflower oil. The cheap meal wouldn’t hurt if Snowden is really having money troubles: His pro bono Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said on Thursday that the whistle-blower “really doesn’t have that much money, but so far he’s got enough money to eat.” At the Duma’s borsht bar, definitely.

Work at Russia’s version of Facebook: If Snowden gets sick of the Duma grub, he may need to start making ends meet in Russia’s insanely overpriced capital, where a cup of coffee can easily set you back $12. Luckily, the popular social networking site Vkontakte, or VK, offered him a job at its headquarters in St. Petersburg the same day he got his asylum papers. “I think Edward might find it interesting to try and protect the personal data of our millions of users,” the company’s co-founder, Pavel Durov, wrote on his VK page. No doubt the CIA-trained geek would be a useful addition to the team. The only drawback is that he won’t get to make friends with Durov any time soon. Russia’s answer to Mark Zuckerberg fled the country in April after cops raided his headquarters on the grounds that he allegedly hit a traffic policeman with his car. Durov, who denies the accusations, is now rumored to be hiding out in the U.S. and – you guessed it – considering a request for political asylum. The notion of him and Snowden potentially switching places sounds like the start of a bad Russian joke.

Hang out with Russia’s second most famous refugee: When it emerged on June 16 that Russian asylum would allow Snowden to travel freely about the country, Jon Lee Anderson, a staff writer for the New Yorker, was the first to tweet: “A roadshow with Depardieu?” Imagine the possibilities. The grizzled French movie star Gerard Depardieu received a Russian passport in February from the hands of President Vladimir Putin himself, leaving his own motherland because of high taxes. Depardieu’s official address is now One Democratic Street in the Russian city of Saransk, a mere 400 miles east of Moscow. That’s in the region of Mordovia, home to an impressive constellation of prison colonies. So when he’s done watching old movies with Depardieu, Snowden could also hop over to Mordovia’s Corrective Labor Camp No. 14 for a visit with one of the founders of the performance art collective Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. She’s about half way through a two-year sentence for hooliganism that she got for singing an anti-Putin song in a Moscow cathedral last year. But visiting her might ruffle Putin’s feathers, so Depardieu might just as well hang back in Saransk.

Marry Anna Chapman: The day before Independence Day, which Snowden marked last month in the transit zone of a Moscow airport, the redheaded poster girl of Russian espionage offered him her hand in marriage. “Snowden, will you marry me?!” Anna Chapman tweeted on July 3. Since 2010, when she was kicked out of the U.S. for working as a Russian spy (albeit a pretty clumsy one), Chapman, 31, has become something of a Moscow socialite. I saw her recently on the rooftop terrace of a bar, nursing an elaborate cocktail, and just this week my friend spotted her at a cafe in the company of two men with buzz cuts. So even if Snowden wants to stay loyal to his girlfriend in Hawaii, going out in Moscow presents a significant risk of a random encounter with Chapman. Resistance would then be futile.

Escape to the banya when the mercury falls: Having grown up in North Carolina and lived in Hawaii before he fled the U.S. in May, Snowden likely has no idea what awaits him with the onset of the Russian winter. He will need, for instance, to learn the concept of “ice rain” – an ugly work of nature that covers everything in sheets of ice and, at the slightest thaw, begins to slide off the rooftops like giant, flying razor blades. Somehow, after a millennium spent dealing with horrendous weather, the nation that launched the first man into space has yet to resolve some pretty basic winter issues, such as how to clear sidewalks of ice. One helpful refuge would be Sanduny, a traditional Moscow banya, or bathhouse, where Snowden should ask to be beaten with birch branches in a room roughly as hot as the air above a blacksmith’s forge. However temporary, this will be the only way to suck the winter from his bones. (Vodka would also help.)

Visit Kalmykia: According to the New York Times, Snowden listed his religion as Buddhism after working at a U.S. military base in Japan. He may therefore want to consider a pilgrimage to Kalmykia, a bastion of Buddhism in southern Russia and its unofficial capital of chess. The man who ruled it for 17 years until 2010, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, claimed for nearly all his time in power that he had been kidnapped by aliens in 1995 and taken on an edifying tour of the galaxy. He still lives like a retired sovereign in Kalmykia, and considering the friendships he had with the enemies of the U.S. government – Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi among them – I’m sure he would gladly give Snowden a tour of his Chess Palace, inside Chess City, which he built on the outskirts of his capital, Elista.

Have a carafe of fire water at the Sword and the Shield: If Snowden gets nostalgic for the company of spooks, he can always swing by their old haunt in Moscow, the Sword and Shield, just up the block from the KGB headquarters on Lubyanka Square. Complete with a bronze statue of Iron Felix, the sociopathic founder of Stalin’s secret police, in the main dining hall, this place has a menu full of what one might call totalitarian kitsch, such as “Red Terror Chicken.” But the Chekist décor is so over-the-top that it mainly attracts tourists and retired spies looking for a taste of the past. A more authentic experience can be found at GlavPivTorg, the beer hall that lies caddy-corner from the KGB building. Back in 1939, the foreign ministers of Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the secret treaty that divided Eastern Europe between them, on what is now the second floor of GlavPivTorg. Today it is peopled most evenings by the men who trickle in after work from Lyubyanka Square. For the honor of having lunch with a former CIA employee like Snowden, they would probably even pick up the tab.

173 comments
SaniFornus
SaniFornus

The Russians will kill Snowden when they are done with him.

makesense
makesense

what a stupid article. may be i can give you more tips. you can write on what Obama should eat everyday, how he should walk his dog, how traffic should be in new york or more about yourself in a stupid manner.

people are dying across the world and there are so many significant problems. if you have nothing useful to write STOP WRITING so that there will be free column for other useful writers for useful topics.

looks like you are too bored of life - please stop your non sense!!


stlussia
stlussia

Не can also take a trip to Hay River on Urals (I was there 2 weeks ago..) and catch the grayling there and try the tastiest honey ...and take a ride on the wild horses ...And see the beautiful untouched nature...

Openminded1
Openminded1

To Burziburz, i see you blocked me from answering  you like a coward would do, by the way I am not a burger kind of guy, more like fine dining. and you would be surprised what languages I speak, Chao!

Pablooski
Pablooski

@nikitronic Thanks! And which would be the 7 things that Nikitrokic should do in Rusia??

lawfrench
lawfrench

What a bunch of vile bile this article is.

Sounds like sour grapes my dears. And of course Time would never write something like this about Saudi Arabia or Israel. "7 things to do in Riyadh" etc.

While I am not a fan of current authoritarian government in Russia, it has improved the economic lot of many of its citizens, paid of most of its international debt, created a reserve fund, etc. The situation is better than in Ukraine, for instance, despite all the corruption, police brutality, crime etc. etc. Unfortunately immediate jump to US- or even EU-style or democracy doesn't look possible now.

And you shouldn't rant about Snowden when a bunch of militants from Caucases is hiding in the US, and Russian requests for their extradition are routinely denied or not even attended to. They also violated the laws but this somehow doesn't matter.

googooleboo
googooleboo

Wait in line for hours for toilet paper. Adopt any of the children with severe fetal alcohol syndrome. Disagree with Putin and see what happens. Dodge the KGB.

WilliamR.Mosby
WilliamR.Mosby

He could also journey to Nevyansk, an hour or two north of Ekaterinburg, to take in the view from the top of the leaning tower of Nevyansk, where my avatar photograph was taken some years ago.

ffoulkes
ffoulkes

Methinks he should be put up in a house in Chernobyl.  I hear the radiation is nice this time of year.

chaokai60
chaokai60

I read it from Taiwan's newspaper, not from the medium carried message, that Vladimir Putin has a house located not very far from Taipei CKS International Airport. Maybe Edward Snowden could visit the small town near Taipei where Vladimir Putin's house located with his asylum petition, or maybe he could just have some sight-seeing around. 

HelmyElsaid
HelmyElsaid

Obligation(www.helmyelsaid.blogspot.com)

QuintanaRoos
QuintanaRoos

How about visit the Hermitage in St. Petersburg?

longhauler88
longhauler88

HE COULD DO THE WORLD A FAVOR AND CUT HIS WRISTS OR WALK OUT IN FRONT OF A TRUCK

dsfargeg
dsfargeg

Having grown up in North Carolina and lived in Hawaii before he fled the U.S. in May, Snowden likely has no idea what awaits him with the onset of the Russian winter. He will need, for instance, to learn the concept of “ice rain”

Whoever wrote this... have you ever *been* to North Carolina in the winter? It's the FREEZING RAIN CAPITAL OF THE UNITED STATES.

hussongs
hussongs

Im sure the the US of A has many more illegal activities going on..... and its not the only country that has freedom and things to offer people..... im sure he will be fine in Russia...they get alot tourist over there and Ukraine has tons of beautiful women..... yup he will be just fine... even if he ends up in Central or South America...he will be just fine..... ive been to alot of those countries... tons of women.....hahahaha!! alot of US people that are already retired live down there for a reason..... what gets to the US Gov.. is that no one wants to help them.... and they are not obligated too...... Snowden will be just fine... peace brah..

whidbeydanielg
whidbeydanielg

A saying I really like is this:  "If someone has an affair with your wife, the best revenge is to let him have her."


I feel this way about the traitor Snowden.  Let Russia have him.  They are just right for each other.  He will find out what freedom is......and isn't.  You won't find a Russian who doesn't wish their country offered what the U.S. does. 

ThirdSection
ThirdSection

I'm guessing that his first stop will be the Ecuadorian, Bolivian or Nicaraguan embassy to procure the proper travel documents to get to his more permanent home once his year is up in Russia.

I think it would be cool if he could see Kamchatka, it's a lot like Yellowstone but bigger than California,

GetReal123
GetReal123

Russia has 11 time zones, not 9. A Russian saying: there are no cold winters, just poor clothing.

WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

And what he will ACTUALLY do is spend the next year being debriefed in a FSB safe house.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

In the July 31 poll published by Moscow's Levada Center, 43% of Russians said the government should grant Mr. Snowden political asylum, while 29% said the government should deny his request. In the poll, 51% of respondents viewed Mr. Snowden positively. It is propitious to note here, that in the U.S., 55% of Americans said Mr. Snowden is a whistleblower, rather than a traitor, according to a national opinion poll released on August 1 by Quinnipiac University. By and large the common people of our countries think alike.The Russian government, unlike the US one, takes the public opinion into consideration.

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2013/08/03/snowden-asylum-granted-russia-us-ties-go-through-rough-times.html

burziburz
burziburz

I have no idea how to block somebody beeing new to twitter - tell me how and I will undo it right away!

DennisBoylon
DennisBoylon

@lawfrenchThis article is complete garbage.

"Unfortunately immediate jump to US- or even EU-style or democracy doesn't look possible now."

Why do you think this would be an improvement? The US is a joke. 



harry19411941
harry19411941

@ffoulkes unfortunately Chernobyl is in the Ukraine. He would need papers to allow him to travel there.

harry19411941
harry19411941

@dsfargeg In Russia they are called "death sickles". In St Petersburg they have a couple of fatalities and numerous injuries every year from them.  Spent four years there, you learn not to walk close to the buildings.

harry19411941
harry19411941

@whidbeydanielg Funny but the line at the Embassy and Consulates to try to get visas to come to the US never got any shorter. Wonder why?

ThirdSection
ThirdSection

@whidbeydanielg As far as I'm concerned, the only "traitor" in this story is the NSA for spying on the American people.  Snowden embarrassed them, and now whatever media you follow is playing up their drumbeats of butthurt.

ihatemylife1988
ihatemylife1988

@Sibir_Russia Stop lying. The only reason our government and population both support Snowden is because he inflicted damage on America's image. Pissing off America is our government's ultimate goal in its foreign policy.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@burziburz You like to dive I see, something in common, i love the bahamas and the fla keys

Openminded1
Openminded1

@ThirdSection @whidbeydanielg Unless you are a  person of interest to the intell/community you have nothing to worry about the NSA knows who to keep tabs on. so if you are not a threat do not worry about it.

whidbeydanielg
whidbeydanielg

@ThirdSection @whidbeydanielg  

Spying!  ooooooooo!    Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  So, tell me, what has the NSA learned about you?

"Nothing" you say.  Yet you are afraid.  VEEEERRRRRY  afraid.    Boo!

Grow up.  Deal with your daddy issues in a more mature way.  Nobody is spying on you.  You aren't in some type of Bruce Willis/Tom Cruise movie.  Nobody cares about you enough to spy on you.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

The reaction in the United States to the granting of temporary asylum to Edward Snowden by Russia was predictably hysterical. It is best expressed the senator from New York, Charles Schumer.

"By providing temporary to asylum Snowden, Russia stabbed us in the back - said Schumer. - And each new day, during which Mr. Snowden will be free to roam - is another twist of the knife in the wound. "

burziburz
burziburz

here in Italy it is evening now so talk to you later!

Openminded1
Openminded1

@burziburz I heard they are good too, Roatan is not far from the bahamas, I first dive was in Hawaii after that. I was hooked

burziburz
burziburz

I like the maldives and the red sea . I also loved Roatan which I think is not too far from the Bahamas.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

@Openminded1@Sibir_Russia 

Paul Craig Roberts -  the Assistant United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald Reagan. Professor of Economics, former Deputy Minister of Finance of the United States, Deputy Editor of the "Wall Street Journal", "Business Week"

 

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Sibir_Russia So the senator has a right to his opinion, something that does not come to easy in Russia, Rights.