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Snowden Regrets Staged Putin Q&A

David von Blohn/NurPhoto, via Corbis

Even the NSA leaker’s closest advisers now say his appearance on a Kremlin call-in show, which touched off yet another international firestorm, was a mistake.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden instantly regretted asking Russian President Vladimir Putin a softball question on live television about the Kremlin’s mass surveillance effort, two sources close to the leaker tell The Daily Beast.“It certainly didn’t go as he would’ve hoped,” one of these sources said. “I don’t think there’s any shame in saying that he made an error in judgment.”“He basically viewed the question as his first foray into criticizing Russia.

Crisis in Ukraine

Will the Shootout Provoke Putin?

Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty

A predawn firefight has left at least one, and possibly as many as four pro-Russian activists dead. Kiev fears this could be the pretext Putin has been looking for to roll his tanks across the border.

KIEV, Ukraine—Russia’s foreign ministry accused Ukrainian authorities today of failing to rein in armed extremists after a bloody shootout shattered what was supposed to be an Easter truce. At least one pro-Russian separatist was killed in an apparent early-morning attack on a checkpoint on the outskirts of the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk.Some reports suggest the attack may have left as many as four separatists dead, but local police are confirming one killed and three wounded.

Useful Idiot

Snowden Didn’t Call Out Putin

Anadolu Agency/Getty

Snowden defended his appearance on Russian state TV as a way to expose state surveillance to the Russian public. But he didn’t expose the kind that matters—and they don’t care, anyway.

American media coverage of Vladimir Putin’s nearly four-hour call-in marathon on Russian television on Thursday was understandably dominated by a two-and-a-half minute segment featuring fugitive ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who asked if Russia practices mass surveillance of communications of the kind he exposed in the United States.After a bit of ribbing about his and Snowden’s shared background as former “agents,” Putin gave a solemn assurance that Russia does nothing of kind, and conducts surveillance of suspected wrongdoers only in strict accordance with the law.

All-Inclusive

Spain’s LGBT Nursing Home

The Daily Beast

In a country where discrimination is bad enough to push some elderly residents back into the closet, there’s a sign of hope—a new center being built in Madrid catering to gay residents.

In most societies, the thought of what to do with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender old people is not exactly a priority. But in Spain, where homophobia could be considered a national pastime, gay people often had to go back into the closet when it came time to think about elderly care.That is all about to change, at least in Madrid, when the country’s first LGBT retirement center opens next year. The center, which has not yet been named and which will be the second in Europe after a Swedish LGBT retirement center that opened last year, is the brainchild of Federico Armenteros, founder of the 26 December Foundation, an NGO for Spain’s LGBT community named after the day in 1978 when homosexuality was no longer “dangerous to society” in Spain.

Miracle

Rwanda’s Virgin Mary Sighting

Nina Strochlic

Ten years before the brutal genocide, a religious fervor gripped Kibeho as dozens claimed the Virgin Mary had appeared to them. One of the chosen recalls her disturbing prophecy.

Before Kibeho, a village spiraling up one of the area’s many hills, became a notorious killing ground during the Rwandan genocide, it was the country’s most celebrated holy spot. For nine years in the 1980s, it gained worldwide fame after a streak of schoolgirls claimed the Virgin Mary appeared to them with messages, including one that foreshadowed the country’s devastating genocide.The road south to Kibeho, paved until it slides into dirt for the last hour stretch from the capital of Kigali, is peppered with signs pointing to “Kibeho Holy Place.

Crisis in Ukraein

Ukraine: Truce and Consequences

Baz Ratner/Reuters

In an exclusive interview, Ukraine’s foreign minister says that over Easter his government has called a halt to confrontations with Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country. But next week is likely to be messy.

KIEV, Ukraine – An Easter weekend suspension of security operations by Ukraine’s new leaders against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country is offering an opportunity for tempers to cool and all sides to reflect on what happened at the not-so-peaceful Geneva peace talks on Thursday.Kiev’s announcement of an Easter truce also has come as a relief to ordinary Ukrainians, who fear the country is on the brink of a wider conflict that could see Russian tanks storming across the border at any moment.

Lens


Week in Pictures

Sutanta Aditya/AFP/Getty

From the heartbreaking disaster in South Korea to rising tension in Ukraine and a remembrance in Boston, a look at the most striking images of the past seven days.

Crisis in Ukraine

Billionaire Bounty-Hunting Club

Gleb Garanich/Reuters

An oligarch opposed to Russia offers rewards for the capture of commandos occupying government buildings. He’s serious. But his countrymen are laughing until they cry.

KIEV, Ukraine—Since the Ukrainian army is not proving very effective against pro-Russian commandos in the East of the country, a prominent oligarch has adopted a strategy from the Wild West. He’s putting out “wanted” notices and offering cash rewards, hoping to inspire more effective action against those uniformed Russian-speaking soldiers without insignia, now known as “little green men,” who’ve been taking over government buildings and scoffing at government orders.

Asia

Burma’s Badass Gun-toting Medics

Thierry Falise/Getty

The Free Burma Rangers are one of the few aid groups left operating in Myanmar’s contested ethnic states—and their work often straddles the line between humanitarian relief and armed activism.

The release of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, at the time arguably the world’s most famous political prisoner, in November 2010 seemed like a turning point for her isolated nation. The following year saw the military junta—which had ruled the country (also known as Myanmar) since taking power in a coup in 1962—hand over the reigns to a nominally civilian government. Crippling economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe were eased, allowing much needed capital to flow in.

Crisis in Ukraine

Putin’s Ukraine Crew Won’t Give In

Reuters

Diplomats reached an agreement in Geneva to defuse the Ukraine crisis, but the people at the heart of it aren’t listening.

DONETSK, Ukraine—A dozen men in motley apparel gathered in a quiet office on the fifth floor of what used to be a state administration building in eastern Ukraine, but is now called the headquarters of the “Independent Donetsk People’s Republic.” Some of the men wore uniforms, others wore track suits, some wore balaclava masks. Their apparent leader, sitting behind the desk, was a round-faced 33-year-old Muscovite who called himself  Mikhail Verin, or Misha, holding forth to the small crowd about how he found his Russian nationalist inspiration and why, no matter what deals diplomats might hammer out in Geneva, he would not be giving up or giving in.

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Crisis in Ukraine

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