WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. John McCain insisted he is "more pro-Russian" than President Vladimir Putin, accusing Putin of corruption, repression and self-serving rule in an opinion piece for a Russian news website answering the Russian leader's broadside last week in The New York Times.
"I am pro-Russian, more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today," McCain wrote. "I make that claim because I respect your dignity and your right to self-determination."
"President Putin doesn't believe in these values because he doesn't believe in you," McCain wrote. "He doesn't believe that human nature at liberty can rise above its weaknesses and build just, peaceful, prosperous societies. 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," McCain wrote.
In an op-ed headlined "Russians deserve better than Putin," McCain singled out Putin and his associates for punishing dissent, specifically the death in prison of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The Russian presidential human rights council found in 2011 that Magnitsky, who had accused Russian officials of colluding with organized criminals, had been beaten and denied medical treatment.
McCain also criticized Putin for siding with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the 2½-year civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.
McCain's opinion piece was published Thursday on the news website Pravda.ru, a website established by former Pravda journalists. The newspaper Pravda is an organ of the Communist Party and is no longer an influential or widely read newspaper, in contrast to its huge presence in the Soviet Union's media landscape.
McCain assailed Putin and his associates for writing laws that codify bigotry, specifically legislation on sexual orientation. A new Russian law imposes fines and up to 15 days in prison for people accused of spreading "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors.
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