Meet the latest critic of Russia’s sham election: Edward Snowden

Snowden calls Russian vote an "effort to steal the influence" of the Russian people.

Someday, Russia will have a free and fair election. CREDIT: GETTY / MIKHAIL SVETLOV
Someday, Russia will have a free and fair election. CREDIT: GETTY / MIKHAIL SVETLOV

During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Edward Snowden’s most lasting contribution was saying that there “may never be a safer election in which to vote for a third option.”

During today’s presidential election in Russia, though, Snowden opted for a different — and far more critical — tack. Taking to Twitter, Snowden wrote that the “ballot stuffing seen today in Moscow and elsewhere … is an effort to steal the influence” of the Russian people. He urged citizens of the country where he is an exile: “Demand justice; demand laws and courts that matter. Take your future back.”

Advertisement

Snowden then linked to a clip of one of the numerous rounds of ballot-stuffing in today’s vote — one of the many means Russian authorities have used to assure Russian President Vladimir Putin his fourth presidential term, and retention of power until at least 2024.

This isn’t the first time Snowden, who moved to Russia in 2013 following his leak of NSA-related material, has been critical of the Kremlin. It is, however, by far his most pointed criticism — and one that caused concern from followers for his safety.

Advertisement

In response to questions about the logic of criticizing Russian authorities so publicly, Snowden responded, noting that “each of us are given a limited number of days to make a difference. Life is a choice to live for something, or to die for nothing.”

The result of Sunday’s vote has never been in question, especially since opposition figure Alexei Navalny was barred from running following a recent court ruling. The Kremlin’s goals, rather, appear two-fold: preventing a reprise of the mass protests that rocked Russia in 2011-12, and assuring a 70-70 output — seventy percent turnout, with at least 70 percent of the electorate voting for Putin.

Early election returns, indeed, show Putin winning with over 70 percent of the vote. The Kremlin, of course, could — and will — effectively falsify either number, but it’s used a raft of tools to assure it meets both goals, ranging from carousel voting to the type of ballot-stuffing Snowden publicized.

Advertisement

Snowden’s tweet is one of a number of clips and observations that have come out today about the ballot-stuffing campaign taking place across the country.

We know that Putin will retain his place in the Kremlin, and that today’s “vote” is an effective coronation, rather than a free and fair selection. But after Snowden’s tweets — and his call for Russians to “take [their] future back” — the whistleblower may soon need to find a new home, where he can continue to criticize Putin’s regime without also worrying about his own safety and security.