Did McCain Publish Putin Criticism in Wrong Pravda?

In an explosive op-ed in Pravda.ru, U.S. Senator John McCain says he is not anti-Russian but simply believes Russians deserve a better government

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Joshua Lott / Reuters

U.S. Senator John McCain speaks to reporters during a town-hall event in Mesa, Ariz., Aug. 27, 2013

Updated: September 19, 10:46 am

U.S. Senator John McCain says he is “more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules [the Russian people] today” in a provocative opinion piece published on Thursday in Pravda.ru that takes a bear-sized swipe at Russian President Vladimir Putin. The only problem? McCain may have picked the wrong Pravda.

McCain’s agressive op-ed was published on the English and Russian news website Pravda.ru, not the historic Communist newspaper that is also named Pravda, Politico reports. Pravda was founded in 1912 as one of the main media outlets of the Soviet Union, but collapsed with the Soviet bloc. It has been recently rekindled by today’s Communist party, and the editor said in a statement that the newspaper would not publish McCain’s piece unless it supported the newspaper’s pro-Syria position.

A spokesman for the Senator said Thursday that McCain had submitted the op-ed to both publications, and that Pravda.ru is not the “wrong” Pravda.

McCain says in his op-ed that he respects the dignity and right to self-determination of the Russian people, as well as the “opportunity to improve your lives in an economy that is built to last and benefits the many, not just the powerful few.” He says he would like Russians to be “governed by a rule of law that is clear, consistently and impartially enforced.”

He then argues that “President Putin and his associates do not believe in these values,” emphasizing the regime’s oppression of political opponents, interference with courts of law and intimidation of journalists.

The former U.S. presidential candidate says Russia’s economy “is based almost entirely on a few natural resources” in the “possession of the corrupt and powerful few.”

Highlighting the Kremlin’s close association with some of the world’s most “offensive and threatening tyrannies,” McCain accuses Putin of ruling “by corruption, repression and violence,” telling the Russian people: “He rules for himself, not you.”