One week after Russian President Vladimir Putin knocked “American exceptionalism” in a New York Times op-ed, Republican Sen. John McCain hit back in Pravda on Thursday, accusing him of ruling “by corruption and repression.”
“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.”
(While the site bears the name of the famed Soviet propaganda outlet Pravda, which means "truth," the Wall Street Journal reports that the site that carried the op-ed was a pro-Kremlin website bearing the same moniker.)
McCain’s English-language op-ed came with a Russian version, courtesy of Library of Congress translators. It also came with a veiled reference to notorious punk rockers “Pussy Riot” (though the senator did not use the name).
So how is the blunt-speaking Arizona senator more pro-Russian than Putin?
I make that claim because I respect your dignity and your right to self-determination. I believe you should live according to the dictates of your conscience, not your government. I believe you deserve the opportunity to improve your lives in an economy that is built to last and benefits the many, not just the powerful few. You should be governed by a rule of law that is clear, consistently and impartially enforced and just. I make that claim because I believe the Russian people, no less than Americans, are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
A Russian citizen could not publish a testament like the one I just offered. President Putin and his associates do not believe in these values. 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. To perpetuate their power they foster rampant corruption in your courts and your economy and terrorize and even assassinate journalists who try to expose their corruption.
They write laws to codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn. They throw the members of a punk rock band in jail for the crime of being provocative and vulgar and for having the audacity to protest President Putin's rule.