UK & World News
McCain To Russia: 'Putin Doesn't Respect You'
US Senator John McCain has accused Russia's president of corruption, repression and self-serving rule in an opinion piece for a Russian website.
Mr McCain's column for Pravda.ru answers Vladimir Putin's broadside last week in The New York Times.
In an opinion piece headlined "Russians Deserve Better Than Putin", Mr McCain accuses Mr Putin and his associates of punishing dissent.
"They don't respect your dignity or accept your authority over them," he said.
"They punish dissent and imprison opponents. They rig your elections. They control your media. They harass, threaten and banish organisations that defend your right to self-governance."
Mr McCain quipped to CNN last week that he wanted to write a piece for Pravda - the mouthpiece newspaper of the Communist Party.
But the website Pravda.ru is not known as a serious news source and has nothing to do with the newspaper Pravda, which was the country's most important paper in the Soviet era, but which has now fallen into obscurity.
Some observers have said that the publishing company Pravda.ru is bankrolled by the Kremlin, as it also runs websites that are staunchly pro-Putin and full of stories smearing his opposition.
Stories running alongside Mr McCain's piece on the Pravda.ru website include "Russia Saves The World", "Why Conservative Americans Admire Putin" and "Chemical Attacks Arranged By Insurgents: Russia Obtains More Evidence".
Sky's Moscow Correspondent Katie Stallard said: "McCain has published this in a pretty small, online only news portal. I'm sure some people here will read that, but it is not exactly the equivalent of The New York Times.
"And it sends the message to people in Russia that American politicians are still stuck in the Cold War way of thinking where they seem to believe that Russian people still read Pravda and perhaps would be shocked to learn the communists are no longer in power."
Mr McCain's piece was sent to both Pravda publications, his office said.
Elsewhere in the Pravda.ru piece, Mr McCain - who has been highly critical of Russia's plan to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons - chides Mr Putin for siding with Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
"He (Putin) is not enhancing Russia's global reputation. He is destroying it," Mr McCain writes.
"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."
Mr McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, insists he is not anti-Russian but rather "more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today".
The Arizona senator also criticises the imprisonment of the punk rock band Pussy Riot and highlights the case of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer whose prison death three years ago became a black mark on Russia's human rights record.
Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Russian News Service radio that the president would read the piece, but was unlikely to respond.
"McCain is not known as a fan of Putin. To engage in polemics - I doubt it, his is the point of view of a person who lives across the ocean," Mr Peskov said.
In his widely quoted piece in The New York Times, Mr Putin criticised Barack Obama's plan to bomb Russia's ally Syria and slammed Washington for "relying solely on brute force" to conduct its international affairs.