Sen. John McCain lambasts Russian President Vladimir Putin in an op-ed published on the Russian news site Pravda on Thursday, calling him a corrupt autocrat who suppresses democracy, political dissent, and economic progress to maintain his iron grip on power.

McCain’s op-ed is a response to Putin’s September 11 op-ed in The New York Times, in which Putin argued against a U.S.-led intervention in Syria and accused the U.S. of working against the interests of international law and human rights. McCain rarely mentions Syria—or Putin’s op-ed—in his Pravda piece but uses the opportunity to lay out his case that Putin is systematically disrespecting the Russian people and abusing Russia’s wealth and power to enrich a small group of wealthy associates to the detriment of the rest of the country. At a basic level, Putin doesn’t believe in the values of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the rule of law, political openness, and social equality, McCain writes in his op-ed, which is directed at the Russian people.

“President Putin and his associates do not believe in these values,” McCain writes in Pravda, a Web site founded in 1999 that is not connected to the official newspaper of the Russian Communist Party. “They 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. They harass, threaten, and banish organizations that defend your right to self-governance. To perpetuate their power they foster rampant corruption in your courts and your economy and terrorize and even assassinate journalists who try to expose their corruption.”

McCain first mentioned his intention to respond in writing to Putin in an interviewwith CNN’s Jake Tapper on September 12. Foreign Policy then contacted Pravda to see if the site would commit to running the op-ed. Pravda agreed to accept the piece, but one of its editors called McCain “an active anti-Russian politician.”

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