Sen. John McCain: Vladimir Putin 'Punishes Dissent and Imprisons Opponents'
Sen. John McCain: Vladimir Putin ‘Punishes Dissent and Imprisons Opponents’

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) penned an op-ed in Russia’s Pravda that slammed Vladimir Putin as ruling just for himself and being a friend to dictators. Well, judging by reader comments, John McCain’s screed wasn’t well received. Still, he slammed Putin on his anti-gay stance.

McCain accused Putin of rigging elections and getting rid of organizations that “defend your right to self-governance.” You will recall that Putin had no qualms about the imprisonment of punk rock band Pussy Riot, for speaking out against his policies.

President Putin claims his purpose is to restore Russia to greatness at home and among the nations of the world. But by what measure has he restored your greatness? He has given you an economy that is based almost entirely on a few natural resources that will rise and fall with those commodities. Its riches will not last. And, while they do, they will be mostly in the possession of the corrupt and powerful few. Capital is fleeing Russia, which – lacking rule of law and a broad-based economy – is considered too risky for investment and entrepreneurism. He has given you a political system that is sustained by corruption and repression and isn’t strong enough to tolerate dissent.

How has he strengthened Russia’s international stature? By allying Russia with some of the world’s most offensive and threatening tyrannies. By 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. 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 an appropriate subject for the world’s attention. He is not enhancing Russia’s global reputation. He is destroying it. He has made her a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed, and untrusted by nations that seek to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world.

President Putin doesn’t believe in these values because he doesn’t believe in you. 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.

Sen. McCain mocked Putin’s boasting of returning Russia to domestic and international strength. He wrote that Russia’s  global reputation was sullied by its Syria alliance. Dang, that’s a zinger.