Russian official blames Navy Yard shooting on ‘American exceptionalism’

September 16, 2013
Duma foreign affairs chief Alexei Pushkov's Twitter page. (Screenshot)
Duma foreign affairs chief Alexei Pushkov's Twitter page. (Screenshot)

Alexei Pushkov, head of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s parliament, seized on the shooting Monday at the Washington Navy Yard to reiterate long-standing Russian criticisms of the United States. "Nobody’s even surprised anymore," he wrote, sarcastically describing the still-ongoing shooting as "A clear confirmation of 'American exceptionalism.'"

Pushkov is a frequent critic of all things American and a reliable conduit of the official Kremlin line. His tweets on the Navy Yard shooting, flagged and translated by BuzzFeed's Max Seddon, seemed to echo Russian President Vladimir Putin's New York Times op-ed arguing that "American exceptionalism" is a dangerous force in the world.

Here are his three tweets on the shooting. The first of two Russian-language tweets is translated by BuzzFeed's Seddon, the second by WorldViews reader Ivan Plis.

Translation: A new shootout at Navy headquarters in Washington - a lone gunman and 7 corpses. Nobody’s even surprised anymore. A clear confirmation of "American exceptionalism."

Translation: For suggesting that the US reject the idea of exceptionalism, "democratically-minded" Americans have heaped curses on me. Read it yourselves.

There's not much surprising in a Russian official glibly criticizing the United States on Twitter, of course. (As BuzzFeed's Saeed Jones tweets, "There are shade queens and there are trolls. And then, there are Russian diplomats.") Pushkov's messages are significant in the degree to which they reflect U.S.-Russia tension over Syria, as well as the apparently deepening Kremlin line that the real source of the world's problems is "American exceptionalism." This is, in many ways, a simple repackaging of the Soviet-era worldview that said Western imperialism was to blame.

This isn't the first time Pushkov has caused trouble on Twitter. He was a frequent tweeter during the Edward Snowden crisis, writing at one point that the NSA leaker had accepted asylum in Venezuela, an error that earned Pushkov a public rebuke from Putin's office.

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Max Fisher · September 16, 2013