The World

Has McCain Read Pravda Lately?

Traditional Russian wooden dolls featuring Barack Obama and John McCain are displayed for sale in central Moscow on Nov. 5, 2008.

Photo by Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images

My former FP colleague John Hudson has stirred up a bit of mischief today. After Sen. John McCain joked that he would “love to have a commentary in Pravda” to respond to Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times, Dmitry Sudakov, the English editor of Pravda, told Hudson that McCain would be welcome to write for the publication. McCain’s communications office then responded, saying they would be “reaching out to Dmitry with a submission.”

Not that this matters greatly, but the Pravda Sudakov edits is not quite the one McCain remembers from the Cold War. The official mouthpiece of the Soviet era was shut down in 1996, then revived a few years later and now functions–kind of–as a mouthpiece for the Russian Communist Party Central Committee, a four-page glorified pamphlet with a staff of 23 and an elderly readership interested in revisionist histories of the Stalin era. (There’s also Komsomolskaya Pravda, the former Communist youth newspaper that has adapted to post-Soviet times and is one of the country’s more popular papers today.)

The much better known Pravda.Ru–Sudakov’s publication–is a different beast entirely, a frequently updated and highly-entertaining tabloid, publishing in both English and Russian, whose content is a kind of cross between WorldNetDaily and the National Enquirer. Typical features might include Nostradamus predictions, alien skulls found on Mars, and “thirteen terribly weird facts about women.”

It also ran one of the more memorable op-eds of the 2012 U.S. election cycle, which declared that “Electing Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States of America would be like appointing a serial paedophile as a kindergarten teacher, a rapist as a janitor at a girls’ dormitory or a psychopath with a fixation on knives as a kitchen hand.”

A selection of current popular articles on the site includes “an expose of the Boston Marathon Bombings Hoax,” a piece arguing that “there has not been an iota of physics produced since Newton’s laws which is not grossly in error,” “SOS signal from UFO sows panic in Siberia,” “Russian children get gay love books from the West,” “Pig as weapon of psychological attack,” and a scoop that “hundreds of Syrian army special forces soldiers are currently located on the territory of the United States, ready to conduct a series of sabotage operations.”

It’s other words, it’s not exactly the equivalent of the New York Times, but it’s a fun site and I can’t wait to see what the senator and former presidential candidate has to say on it.