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McCain goes after ‘corrupt’ Putin in op-ed for Russian outlet

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in a new op-ed for the Russian media outlet Pravda, attacks Russian President Vladimir Putin as "corrupt" and no friend of the Russian people.

FILE: Russian President Vladimir Putin (AFP/Getty Images) FILE: Russian President Vladimir Putin (AFP/Getty Images)

"President Putin doesn't believe in these values [of freedom] because he doesn't believe in you. He doesn't believe that human nature at liberty can rise above its weaknesses and build just, peaceful, prosperous societies," McCain wrote. "Or, at least, he doesn't believe Russians can. So he rules by using those weaknesses, by corruption, repression and violence. He rules for himself, not you."

Russian wrote the op-ed after the outlet's editor offered to publish it and as Putin plays a significant role in negotiating Syria's forfeiture of its chemical weapons. That editor called McCain "anti-Russian."

In his op-ed, McCain responded directly to that characterization.

"Since my purpose here is to dispel falsehoods used by Russia's rulers to perpetuate their power and excuse their corruption, let me begin with that untruth," McCain wrote. "I am not anti-Russian. I am pro-Russian, more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today."

McCain lamented that Russian citizens could not write the kind of things that he wrote in his op-ed.

"President Putin and his associates do not believe in these values," McCain wrote. "They don't respect your dignity or accept your authority over them. They punish dissent and imprison opponents. They rig your elections. They control your media. They harass, threaten, and banish organizations that defend your right to self-governance."

McCain also criticized Russia for jailing members of the rock band Pussy Riot for protesting against the government and for a new law against pro-gay rights demonstrations and public displays of affection.

"They write laws to codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn," McCain wrote.

Interestingly, McCain's op-ed may not have ended up in the outlet that he intended. As CNN reports, the Russian website, where McCain's op-ed appears, is different from the Russian newspaper Pravda.

The Pravda McCain had publicly said he wanted to be published in is one of the oldest Russian newspapers, founded in 1912.

Pravda, which means “the truth” in Russian, became the biggest newspaper during the Soviet period of Russian history. It was the official mouthpiece of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party. The newspaper was closed down after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, then reopened in 1997 as the official paper of the Russian Communist Party. The current Pravda has a considerably smaller circulation compared to its Soviet glory days., the news outlet that actually published McCain’s piece, is an electronic news website founded in 1999. Even though the website also bears the name Pravda, it is not connected to Pravda newspaper. The website has English and Russian editions and covers everything from politics to fashion and celebrities.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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