Alexei Pushkov, head of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament, tweeted on Tuesday that NSA leaker Edward Snowden had decided to accept Venezuela's offer of asylum. Then, within minutes, Pushkov deleted the tweet.
A screenshot of the original, Russian-language tweet is above. Here, via the Russian state-financed network RT, is the English translation: "Predictably, Snowden has agreed to [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro’s offer of political asylum. Apparently, this option appeared most reliable to Snowden."
Pushkov dependably reflects the government’s position on international issues, which lent some credibility to his original tweet. He later tweeted, according to another translation from RT, "Information about Snowden accepting Maduro’s offer of asylum comes from [Russian TV channel] Vesti 24 newscast at 18:00. Contact them for all questions."
Adding to the confusion, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Guardian's Miriam Elder that he had no knowledge of Snowden accepting asylum from Venezuela. He went on to rebuke Pushkov directly -- perhaps a sign of Kremlin unhappiness with the tweet, although it's not clear if that would have been because it was false or because he was merely supposed to stay quiet.
Another strange moment in Snowdenland.