Russians React to McCain's Pravda.ru Op-Ed

The assessments of the senator's piece aren't generous. 
Screenshot/Pravda.ru

Following an op-ed in The New York Times by Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. Senator John McCain promised to write a response for the Russian website Pravda.ru. It was published on September 19. 

McCain is a controversial figure in Russia for his combative stance against Putin. And Russian social-media users met his piece with applause, scorn, and ambivalence. Some notable reactions below.

The parody Twitter account below posted an iPhone screenshot with positive reactions to McCain's op-ed (although, as Russia analyst Kevin Rothrock points out, the account-holder is clearly deriding McCain). “​I think if I were in the U.S. I'd be a Republican,” said Oleg Kozyrev, a media analyst and opposition blogger. Pavel Senko, an anti-corruption activist, said, “It's an embarrassing moment, when a U.S. senator seems closer to Russians than a Russian Federation senator.”
Robert Shlegel, a Duma deputy from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party and a former spokesman for the “Nashi” pro-Kremlin youth movement, satirized the post.  “I'm McCain,” he said. “And I want to rule the world. But for now I just have this dumb column.”
Maksim Kononenko, a pro-Kremlin blogger, took issue with McCain's claim that “a Russian citizen could not publish a testament like the one I just offered.” The Internet in Russia is still generally considered free.  “McCain's so dumb,” he said. “He just uncovered one of the largest thefts by the government of private assets in Russian history. Where has he been beaten, become sick and died.”
Some were mostly perplexed that McCain chose Pravda.ru to publish his op-ed. In Soviet times, the Pravda newspaper was the official mouthpiece of the state, but it fell into disarray in the 1990s. There is now a newspaper version run by the Communist Party, but the Pravda.ru website is unrelated to the print edition.
 
Ilya Yashin, leader of the opposition Solidarity movement said, “McCain obviously doesn't know that the Pravda.ru website isn't related to the Cold War-era newspaper,” but is just a Kremlin-connected parody.
Another user said, “McCain is absolutely right, but he could have chosen a better site.”
 
User Irina Zabelina mocked McCain's line of thinking when he agreed to write for Pravda.ru. “Give me a column in 'Pravda' and the regime will fall,” she wrote.
 
Putin responded to McCain's article at the annual Valdai Club forum.
This is not Putin's first tussle with McCain. During the fledgling days of massive anti-Kremlin protests following disputed parliamentary elections, McCain warned Putin that  he could meet the fate of former Middle Eastern dictators who had recently fallen.
Putin responded to the threat, saying it was directed not at him, but at Russia. “We have our own opinions,” he said. “We lead an independent political system and I hope we will in the future. That, of course, bothers some people.”

This post appears courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

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