Zee Media Bureau
Washington: US Senator John McCain on Thursday accused Russian President of ruling through violence and repression.
Accusing Putin of allying himself with tyrants, McCain, in an editorial published on the news website Pravda.ru, slammed the Russian President`s policies at home and in Syria where he shielded President Bashar al-Assad.
"(Putin) 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," wrote McCain.
The senior senator from Arizona, who is also a leading Republican voice on military affairs, declared himself to be “pro-Russian”.
McCain’s article was intended to answer Putin`s op-ed article in The New York Times on September 12 in which the Russian leader made the case against US President Barack Obama’s threatened military strike on Syria.
In 2011, McCain, who is known in Russia as one of the Kremlin`s harshest critics, had warned Putin that "the Arab Spring is coming to a neighbourhood near you" when fraud allegations triggered mass street protests after a Parliamentary Election.
The senator has been critical of Putin`s domestic policies, including Moscow`s response to the protest movement that has all but died out after Russia`s Parliament passed laws that critics say are intended to clamp down on dissent.
"President Putin and his associates ... 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.
"To perpetuate their power they foster rampant corruption in your courts and your economy and terrorise and even assassinate journalists who try to expose their corruption."
After Russia gave asylum to Snowden, who is wanted by US authorities, McCain said Washington should complete missile-defence programs in Europe and expand NATO to include Russian neighbour Georgia - both endeavours that are anathema to Moscow.
McCain made reference to anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in pre-trial detention after accusing officials of a USD 230-million fraud, and mentioned recently passed laws criticised in the West for being anti-gay.
He also said that the members of the protest punk band Pussy Riot, two of whom are serving time behind bars for a protest against Putin in a Moscow cathedral, had been convicted on political grounds.
"They write laws to codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn. 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," he said.
Meanwhile, Putin, speaking to a gathering of the Valdai Club of journalists, social scientists and public figures, said he regretted that McCain had not taken up an invitation to the meeting. The Senator`s positions, he said, were largely a product of ignorance. "It all speaks of the fact that McCain has a deficit of information about Russia," Putin said. "The more we speak to each other directly, the better it will be."
(With Agency inputs)