McCain Slaps Back at Putin in Scathing Op-Ed in Russian Newspaper

In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's essay in the New York Times opinion section last week, Senator John McCain has penned an op-ed of his own in Russia's Pravda. The essay lives up to its title —"Russians deserve better than Putin"— and offers a scathing view of the Russian president and his government.

First, McCain claims not just to be pro-Russian, but also “more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today.” He then lays into Putin and his cronies.

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.

McCain also slams Putin's economic policies, saying they've made Russia's economy “too risky for investment and entrepreneurism,” and writes that Russia's foreign policy has “made her a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed, and untrusted by nations that seek to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world.”

What was Putin's reaction? Much like President Obama's response to Putin's op-ed, the Russian president didn't seem too bothered by it, and his spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov said he wouldn't respond.

“Engaging in any debates would not make sense,” Peskov told Russian news services. “As far as the question of what Russians deserve is concerned, they are able to answer this question on their own, and they do so when elections are held. I do not think that the opinion of any person who lives overseas can play any role in swaying Russians’ preferences.”

UPDATE: It looks like McCain published his op-ed in the wrong Pravda. From CNN:

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.

Pravda.ru, 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.

Slate describes the Pravda that published McCain as a “frequently updated and highly-entertaining tabloid, publishing in both English and Russian, whose content is a kind of cross between WorldNetDaily and the National Enquirer. Typical features might include Nostradamus predictions, alien skulls found on Mars, and “thirteen terribly weird facts about women."

[Image via AP]