Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) unloaded on Vladimir Putin in an op-ed posted Thursday on a Russian news website, criticizing the Russian president for corrupting elections, quashing dissent and discriminating against homosexuals.
Writing for the website Pravda, McCain asserted to readers that he is “more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today.”
“I make that claim because I respect your dignity and your right to self-determination,” McCain wrote. “I believe you should live according to the dictates of your conscience, not your government.”
“President Putin and his associates do not believe in these values,” he argued.
The Arizona senator accused Putin of rigging elections and banishing organizations that “defend your right to self-governance.” McCain also made reference to anti-gay legislation that recently passed in Russia, as well as last year’s imprisonment of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot.
“They write laws to codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn,” McCain wrote. “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.”
Despite his criticism of the legislation, which bans so-called gay propaganda among Russian youth, McCain remains opposed to marriage equality. In March, McCain said it’s unlikely that he will ever change his position on same-sex marriage.
The 2008 Republican presidential nominee also blasted Putin for “supporting a Syrian regime that is murdering tens of thousands of its own people to remain in power and by blocking the United Nations from even condemning its atrocities.”
McCain’s piece on Thursday was a response to Putin’s much-discussed op-ed in The New York Times. But as CNN noted, McCain had originally hoped to write in the newspaper Pravda, the oldest Russian publication that has no connection to the website of the same name.