Anatoly Kucherena, the Russian senator acting as a lawyer for Snowden, says his client has been ground down by the airport ordeal and could use some rest and relaxation.
“He needs a period of rehabilitation, or adaptation, because he is very tired and morally exhausted,” he said.
But how should Snowden spend his time now that he’s been sprung from the airport? Below is a personalized guide to the land where he is now stuck — from a liberty seeker’s must-see tourist sites to where he might indulge his penchant for anime.
Reviled by many in the United States as a traitor, Snowden can count on at least arm’s-length support from ordinary people in Russia. More than half of the respondents to a survey by Levada, an independent Moscow-based pollster, favored the Kremlin’s decision to grant Snowden asylum and only 10 percent were against.
If Snowden really is, as his father suggests, a sensitive sort, he’ll want to probe the Russian soul. That means getting deep into Russian language and culture.
Learning basic Russian should not be an insurmountable problem for Snowden, who mastered Japanese during a stint working for the NSA in Japan. Making sense of the obscure and often irreverent doublespeak of Russian online chat rooms will be another matter. But Snowden, so wary of snoopers that he used to don a red hood before inserting his computer password, understands living in code.
Snowden says he forsook a life in “paradise” in the United States, but Moscow is not without delights to tickle his fancy.
If he still hankers after Japanese food, Moscow is a good place to be. A sushi fad that began in the 1990s has turned into an inescapable addiction. More than 1,000 Japanese eateries are listed in the city, including the ubiquitous budget Yakitoria chains and the upmarket Nobu, where there is even a New York chef.
Russians excel at having a good time, and Snowden, at least while he is in the post-transit-lounge rehabilitation phase, might as well let his hair down.
Tweeters have joked that the first place Snowden should go is the Hungry Duck, Moscow’s legendary strip club, a favorite haunt of expats in the 1990s. Unfortunately, the Duck is no longer open, but the city has an abundance of more upscale options. Almost all feature pole dancing — presumably an attraction for Snowden, whose girlfriend was an instructor in exotic dance and fitness when the couple met in Maryland.
Snowden reportedly burned through a lot of his savings ordering from the overpriced cafes at the Moscow airport, so he will have to find a way to make a living.
Kucherena, who told the New York Times he was acting for Snowden pro bono, said that won’t be a problem — there’s a possibility of his client, known for his exhibitionist tendencies, appearing on Russian TV talk shows.