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McCain Tells Pravda Corrupt Putin Regime Coddles Tyrants

U.S. Senator John McCain
U.S. Senator John McCain said, “When I criticize your government, it is not because I am anti-Russian. It is because I believe you deserve a government that believes in you and answers to you.” Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator John McCain told Russians they deserve a better leader than President Vladimir Putin, saying they should demand their “inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

To stay in power, Putin and his associates imprison opponents, rig elections, control the media and “terrorize and even assassinate journalists who try to expose their corruption,” the 2008 Republican presidential candidate said in an opinion article published today in Russian and English on Pravda.ru.

Putin rules “by corruption, repression and violence,” McCain said. “When I criticize your government, it is not because I am anti-Russian. It is because I believe you deserve a government that believes in you and answers to you.”

McCain’s knowledge of “our country” is insufficient, though he’s welcome to express his views on Russian television, Putin said at his annual Valdai Club discussion group.

Putin, in power for almost 14 years, made a direct appeal to the American public last week over plans by President Barack Obama’s administration to bomb Syria. Putin said in a New York Times opinion article that the U.S. should embrace his proposal for the Middle Eastern nation to surrender its chemical arms to avoid air strikes, which, if not backed by the United Nations, “could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”

Syria Accord

Syria is embroiled in a 2 1/2-year civil war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and uprooted about 6 million people. The U.S. halted plans to attack Syria after Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov reached an accord in Geneva last week that calls on Assad to produce a full inventory of his country’s chemical weapons arsenal by Sept. 21, before its eventual destruction.

McCain has supported military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which the U.S. blames for a sarin gas attack near the capital, Damascus, last month that killed more than 1,400 people. Russia and Syria have had close ties since Assad’s father came to power in a bloodless coup in 1970. Russia maintains its only military base outside the former Soviet Union at Syria’s Mediterranean port of Tartus.

McCain criticized Putin’s association with regimes shunned by Western nations.

“How has he strengthened Russia’s international stature? By allying Russia with some of the world’s most offensive and threatening tyrannies,” McCain said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brad Cook in St. Petersburg at bcook7@bloomberg.net; Torrey Clark in Moscow at tclark8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Hellmuth Tromm at htromm@bloomberg.net

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