In a commentary on Russia's Pravda.ru website, influential U.S. Senator John McCain accuses the Russian government of punishing dissent, imprisoning opponents, rigging elections, and controlling the media.
McCain says the Russian people deserve better leadership than they currently have under President Vladimir Putin.
McCain said Putin claimed he is restoring Russia's greatness but that Putin has given Russians "an economy based almost entirely on a few natural resources that will rise and fall with those commodities."
McCain also accused the government of adopting laws to "codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn."
He also criticized Putin's support for "some of the world's most offensive and threatening tyrannies," such as Syria. '
McCain's article follows a commentary by Putin in "The New York Times" in which he took issue with American "exceptionalism."