During an interview with a German news service, Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to answer whether or not Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would be granted asylum in Russia. Putin said that political reforms and fair elections must occur in Syria before the topic can be taken up.
During the interview, Putin broadly outlined plans for the future of Syria. On his list of priorities were the creation of a new constitution, followed by free elections that would allow the Syrian people to decide whether or not Assad should remain in power as president. “This is the only way to achieve stability and security, to create conditions for economic growth and prosperity,” said Putin, afterwards stating that such measures were also necessary to solve the refugee crisis that has gripped much of Europe.
Recently, United States Secretary of State John Kerry announced during a meeting with Russian leaders that the US would no longer pursue the ousting of Mr. Assad as its prime goal in Syria. Russian officials have maintained that if free elections are held, Assad is likely to win them. However, the possibility of granting the Syrian president asylum was not ruled out in Putin’s statement. During the same interview, Putin took the opportunity to note that Russia has recently given political asylum to Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who publicly released details of mass surveillance by the United States government before relocating to Russia. The Russian leader stated that giving asylum to Snowden was more politically difficult than harboring Assad in the event of a loss in future Syrian elections.
By MARIAJONER (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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