McCain to Russians: You deserve better

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday told the Russian people their president, Vladimir Putin, does not believe in them and destroys their reputation in the world.

The senator addressed the Russian people in an op-ed titled “The Russians deserve better than Putin,” published on independent news site, Pravda.ru. It was translated into Russian. 

“He is not enhancing Russia's global reputation,” wrote McCain, according to an English translation. “He is destroying it.”

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McCain was one of two American lawmakers who had op-eds published in Russia to rebut Putin’s New York Times op-ed from last week that warned Americans not to attack Syria and condemned “American exceptionalism.” The other was Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.). 

In his piece, McCain said Putin’s support of the Syrian regime, which the U.S. claims killed more than 1,400 people in a nerve gas attack in August, should garner attention. McCain has been a vocal supporter of U.S. military intervention in Syria. 

“By refusing to consider the massacre of innocents, the plight of millions of refugees, the growing prospect of a conflagration that engulfs other countries in its flames [is] an appropriate subject for the world's attention.”

McCain only briefly touched on Syria and otherwise mostly denounced Putin himself.

Russians are endowed with the same rights as Americans, McCain wrote, which are “rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

But, “President Putin and his associates do not believe in these values,” he said.

“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," McCain wrote. "They harass, threaten, and banish organizations that defend your right to self-governance.”

“When I criticize your government, it is not because I am anti-Russian,” he wrote.

“It is because I believe you deserve a government that believes in you and answers to you. And, I long for the day when you have it.” 

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