Just in: Bolshoi hosts Edward Snowden’s first public outing

Just in: Bolshoi hosts Edward Snowden’s first public outing


norman lebrecht

August 07, 2014

The US whistleblower, granted an extra year’s asylum in Moscow, celebrated with a visit to the opera – The Tsar’s Bride, at the Bolshoi.

He passed mostly unnoticed, having shed his spectacles and worn a dark jacket.


edward snowden bolshoi

Snowden betrayed classified US information in protest at US surveillance of citizens. In Russia, everyone knows, there is no such surveillance.


  • GEll says:

    Correction – granted a 3 year residency.

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    “In Russia, everyone knows, there is no such surveillance”. And that’s supposed to make the NSA’s unbridled one more acceptable?

  • Neil McGowan says:

    The Tsar’s Bride? Ah yes… that’s the one about the secret agent in the Oprichnina – who turns against his own masters.

    One of my favourites.

  • anonymus says:

    I personally believe this is all a setup. Snowden is a patsy, acting according to a superior plan. It was time to tell the public, that they are under surveillance 24/7…
    The power of a tyrannic security regime, is in people knowing that Big Brother is there.
    That’s what made the Stasi so powerful. Because people were afraid of it…
    Now prove me wrong.

      • anonymus says:

        Thanks for acting out the spelling nazi here sdreader, but I don’t care how the British or Americans spell it. I go with the spelling that was used in classical music and actually the whole scripture world derived from Latin and that again from Greek for centuries, “anonymus”.

    • Gonout Backson says:

      First you prove you’re not a camel.

    • GEll says:

      Snowden a patsy? Be reminded that it took enormous courage and risk for the man to do what he did on your and our behalf. What you wrote is conspiracy theory at its best.

      • Gonout Backson says:

        Please, let’s keep the “enormous courage and risk” for Anna Politkovskaya.

        As for Snowden, “courage” would have been to do what he did, and then to face the music, rather than to hide in a country which represents everything he pretends to fight against.

        • GEll says:

          That this bears repeating says more about your ignorance of the topic than anything you could argue against Snowden: Edward Snowden is not hiding in Russia on his own free will. The reason he is stuck there is because the USG revoked his passport while in transit. As for facing the music back home, again, your ignorance shows. Anyone charged with the Espionage Act stands zero chance of a fair trial. There are well known precedents. Do your research.

          • Gonout Backson says:

            And Russia won’t deliver him a “travelling document” or something of the kind the authorities in communist countiers were delivering to Jews in the sixties, pushing them out? Have they lost their knack?

            Or maybe one of the two (both?) is/are quite comfortable with the situation: Snowden to remain in Russia, and/or Putin to keep him there, just in case?

            As for the “unfair trial”, just imagine: the most vastly publicized “espionage” affair of the 21 century judged hush-hush PDQ behind closed doors. Snowden is (probably: I’m being nice here) a complete amateur, but the people who support and use him most certainly are not.

  • Simon S. says:

    Norman, please reconsider the last sentence of your post. Of course, everybody knows that in Russia there is surveillance, too (though we can assume that the American version is more advanced technologically). This has been known or assumed by everybody before.

    Mr. Snowden’s merit is that he has made the world know that the government of the “land of the free”, the country which claimed to be the leading power of the “free world”, has the world under surveillance – everybody, everywhere; own citizens and aliens.

    The news is not that Russia spies on its citizens. This is as self-evident as saying “there is sometimes snow in Canada”. The news is that America spies on its citizens, its allies, everyone. This is like snow in Southern California.

    Mr. Snowden sacrificed virtually everything he had for making the world know this.

    An why did he seek asylum in Russia? Because Germany, the UK, France etc. pp., all the self-proclaimed free countries of the world, didn’t help him. He needed asylum in a country willing to protect him and capable of doing so. There are not so many places on this globe where you can be rather safe if the American government wants you. And yes, I’d prefer Moscow to some remote Taliban controlled mountains in Afghanistan, too.

    • Gonout Backson says:

      This has forever been my favorite logic: since it’s Russia, it’s normal, let’s not waste breath to talk about it or even, God forbid, do something about it.

      And so they get away with anything, because there will always be someone ready to scream “we’ve done so much worse (many years ago)”.

      They’re very good with other countries’ whistleblowers. Just check what they do with theirs.

      • Simon S. says:

        No. It’s not about letting Russia get away with it. But this doesn’t make the NSA any better. It’s a shame Mr. Snowden didn’t get asylum in any democratic country willing and capable (!) to protect him. You can’t blame him for this.

        • Gonout Backson says:

          Oh, I know it’s “not about it”. But it seems to be the sweet old result, as it has always been. We don’t even wait for the others to say “and you are lynching Negroes”, we scream it ourselves at the top of our lungs.

          We live in the only civilisation ever which, in any controversy, automatically blames itself. It’s a reflex: “since we are (axiomatically) wrong, they are (necessarily) right”.

          We never see the beam in the other’s eye, blinded as we are by the tiniest straw in ours.

          In any living person, it would be considered a pathology.

          • Simon S. says:

            You seem to think in terms of “good or wrong – my country”. Why?

            And no, I’m not blaming “ourselves”. I’m blaming the governments. I’m not the government. And it’s not me or (hopefully) you that are spying, but the governments of the so called free countries. I want these countries to really deserve to be called “free”. And we won’t achieve this by pointing at the Russians. I am spied at by my own government (Germany) and by the Amreican government. And you are telling me I should accept this just because the Russians are evil? No, I won’t.

            (By the way: I know a number of Russians. Very nice people. And they’re not responsible for the FSB’s actions either.)

    • sdReader says:

      +1 … except that there *is* snow in SoCal!

      • Simon S. says:

        Really? I must admit, I have never been there so far. And I hope my post above didn’t bring me on the no-fly-list, so I still have the chance to get there.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      Governments that think they have the power to do anything they want eventually will do anything they want.

      If only there was some document outlining what a national government should do, making it clear that anything else was for subsidiary entities or for its citizens to be free to do. Any idea where we could find something like that?

  • Neil McGowan says:

    An why did he seek asylum in Russia?

    Well, in fact he was on his way to Ecuador. But there are no direct flights from HKG (where he was) to Ecuador, so he bought a ticket on Aeroflot via Moscow. However, while he was in mid-air, President Obama rescinded his US passport – leaving him stateless. On arrival in Moscow in transit to Ecuador, he found he could continue no further, since his passport had been electronically cancelled.

    Thus he found himself somewhat involuntarily in Russia – a country which has treated him fairly so far. He is still technically stateless – so any plans for relocating elsewhere would first have to overcome the hurdle of having no passport.

    • Simon S. says:

      He was not left stateless. The cancellation of his passport left him without any possibility of travelling, but not without his American citizenship.

      • anonymus says:

        Maybe so, but his American citizenship is of no use to him anyway. It’s more of a burden, since all the rights and protections that used to come with such a citizenship are demolished just like in a totalitarian state. If in the US you turn (seriously) against the government, you end up in a Gulag. God bless America. Actually their Gulags are in subtropic climate, next to the sea, you must give them that.

  • Robert Garbolinski says:

    Good for him – he did the right thing and I would love t meet him.