MOSCOW, August 15 (RIA Novosti) – Most Russians believe that fugitive former US intelligence worker Edward Snowden had only wanted the world to know about the American government infringing on private lives, a new poll showed Thursday.
Only 26 percent of respondents to the state survey, conducted last month, said Snowden’s move was directed “at discrediting American special services … and tarnishing the reputation of the American government.”
Fifty-two percent said Snowden “wanted to open the eyes of international society to the activities of special services and inform people about the danger of intrusion in their private lives.”
The poll, conducted by the state-run Russia Public Opinion Research Center, also revealed that two-thirds of respondents had, prior to the survey, known who Snowden is, while 32 percent said they had never heard about him.
Over 40 percent of respondents were in favor of Russia’s granting asylum to the US intelligence leaker, whereas 38 percent said he should not have been given asylum, while 20 percent said they had no answer.
Snowden, 30, is wanted by the United States on espionage and theft charges after leaking classified information about extensive telephone and electronic surveillance programs by the US National Security Agency.
He received temporary asylum from Russia earlier this month, a move that has further strained US-Russian relations and prompted an outcry from the administration of US President Barack Obama and members of the US Congress.
The poll was conducted on July 6-7 using a nationwide sample of 1,600 adults across 130 residential areas in 42 Russian regions. The statistical margin of error did not exceed 3.4 percent.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.