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14 Sep, 2013 17:18

McCain baffles Russian communists promising to respond to Putin's op-ed in Pravda

McCain baffles Russian communists promising to respond to Putin's op-ed in Pravda

US Senator John McCain plans to write a column for a Russian newspaper Pravda in response to President Vladimir Putin’s opinion piece on Syria in The New York Times that outraged some members of the American Congress.

The announcement was made on Friday by Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the senior Republican senator known to be one of the fiercest Kremlin critics.

This comes shortly after the US daily published Putin’s op-ed, in which he criticized Washington for the tendency to rely “solely on brute force” in their foreign policy.

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States,” the Russian president said in his open letter to the American people. Putin also warned that a strike against Syria “would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism.”

The publication triggered a tough response from the White House as well as from top US lawmakers.  Senator McCain described Putin’s piece as “an insult to the intelligence of every American.” In an interview with CNN on Thursday, he joked that he would “love to have a commentary in Pravda.”

Foreign Policy magazine sent the transcript of McCain’s interview to the Russian news outlet, Pravda.ru, and got their agreement to publish the Arizona Republican’s op-ed. 

Mr. McCain has been an active anti-Russian politician for many years already,” said Dmitry Sudakov, the English editor of Pravda.ru, as cited by the Foreign Policy’s blog, The Cable. “We have been critical of his stance on Russia and international politics in our materials, but we would be only pleased to publish a story penned by such a prominent politician as John McCain.

Sudakov said that he is convinced that he would not agree on many things that the American politician would have to say in his column, but his article would “obviously be published in English” and then also translated into Russian.

When The Cable reached the Senator’s office with the news, McCain’s spokesman said that he “would be glad to write something for Pravda, so we'll be reaching out to Dmitry with a submission.” According to spokesman Rogers, McCain would most likely want to address such issues as democracy and human rights in Russia, “and certainly Putin’s regime aiding and abetting of the Syrian regime, which has killed 100,000 of its own people.”

Communists: 'Ok, if McCain fits our Syria line'

The news stirred a bit of controversy in the Russian media since it was not immediately clear which Pravda newspaper McCain was going to write for – the post-Soviet edition of Pravda newspaper or the on-line news outlet Pravda.ru that The Cable actually contacted. 

Back in the Soviet times there was only one newspaper called Pravda (or ‘The Truth’), which was established in 1912. After the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and until the collapse of the USSR it remained the country’s most influential daily.

Since the mid 1990s, the successor of that Pravda has belonged to the Russian Communist Party (the KPRF).  The Pravda, published in Russian, is the official organ of the party and is led by Communist MP Boris Komotsky.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov. The poster behind reads: "There are many newspapers, but only one Pravda." (RIA Novosti/Vladimir Fedorenko)

Some journalists from the USSR-era Pravda paper migrated to an online news outlet which was established in 1999 as Pravda On-Line and then rebranded Pravda.ru in 2003. This Pravda does have an English version.

The Communist daily was pretty surprised to know from the reports in the press that “they agreed” to post McCain’s op-ed.

Once I learned about that, I started worrying: how should we pay him – in roubles of dollars?” Pravda newspaper editor-in-chief Komotsky said, as cited by Itar-Tass. “Then I thought maybe McCain is in talks with some ‘Oklahoma city Pravda’,” he said.

Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the KPRF, said that if the newspaper does get a proposal from McCain “we will be ready to consider it, but only if his opinion does not contradict the Communist Party’s position on the war in Syria,” the party’s website quotes. 

He reiterated the KPRF’s view that there is a war “between the legal Syrian government which is supported by the people and gangs of international terrorists supported from abroad.” The main objective of this “special operation” is the overthrow of the government in order to gain control over the country’s resources to exploit them, Zyuganov said, adding that the same was true of the wars in Libya and Iraq. 

The US is attempting to eliminate our last ally in the Middle East – Syria. And McCain is one of the most predatory hawks urging direct aggression [against Syria]," the Communist leader believes.

It is still not clear which of the two Pravda news outlets McCain actually kept in mind when making his comment to CNN.

However, according to The Cable, he will now write his column for Pravda.ru and the piece is expected to be submitted by Wednesday next week.

We will have Senator McCain’s op-ed translated into Russian so that we can be certain of the accuracy of translation,” Rogers is cited as saying.