Snowden questions Putin on surveillance policies
MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin is assuring Edward Snowden that Russians have nothing to fear when it comes to mass surveillance by their own government.
Several hours into Putin's televised call-in show today, there was an appearance on video from Snowden, the American who leaked a trove of material on U.S. government surveillance programs from the National Security Agency. He was granted asylum in Russia last year.
Snowden asked, "Does Russia intercept, store or analyze the communications of millions of individuals?"
It's a question that came as little surprise to Putin, since the program was heavily stage-managed.
Putin replied, "Special services here, thank God, are under the strict control of the government, society, and their operations are regulated by law."
His official answer, though, differs sharply from the reality in Russia.
In recent months, Russia's Internet regulatory body has shut down the domain of a leading opposition figure. It's also moved to block groups on Russia's leading social network that were connected to the Ukrainian protest movement that helped force out the country's Kremlin-backed president.