In a first-of-its kind arrangement, the editors of Russian newspaper Pravda have tentatively agreed to publish a column by Sen. John McCain that will attack the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The agreement comes one day after Putin criticized the United States in a widely-read column in The New York Times.
"If John McCain wants to write something for us, he is welcome," Dmitry Sudakov, the English editor of Pravda tells The Cable. "Mr. McCain has been an active anti-Russian politician for many years already. 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."
When The Cable reached the senator's office with the offer, McCain's communications director Brian Rogers responded within minutes. "On the record: Senator McCain would be glad to write something for Pravda, so we'll be reaching out to Dmitry with a submission."
The beginning of this surprising arrangement all started last night when your trusty Cable guywatched an interview between McCain and CNN's Jake Tapper about Putin's latest op-ed. In a nod to Russia's restrictive press policies (Russia is ranked 148th out of 179 in the world for respecting press freedoms by Reporters Without Borders), McCain joked "I would love to have a commentary in Pravda."
After The Cable sent this transcript to Pravda, Sudakov bristled at the idea that his newspaperwould be prevented from publishing a column by McCain.
"I am convinced that we would not agree on many things that he would have to say in his column, but an article like that would obviously be published in English and then translated into Russian so that all our Russian readers could read what Mr. McCain has to say," he said. "In addition... we already have a U.S. politician who acts as a regular contributor to Pravda.Ru - Paul Craig Roberts, a former Senator, a man who used to be in the team of Ronald Reagan. So I believe that Mr. McCain is not aware of the real state of affairs in my country when he expresses his judgements of freedom of speech."
Rogers chuckled at the suggestion that Paul Craig Roberts is a former senator (he's actually a former assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy during the Reagan administration) and pointed to some of his anti-establishment views posted on his personal site. "He was never a senator," said Rogers. "If you look on his website, it's all pro-Putin stuff and how the United States is a criminal regime."