The Cable

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McCain: We’re all Russians, too

Did you know there will be massive human rights protests across Russia this Saturday? Well, John McCain is all over the situation. McCain, who famously declared "We are all Georgians" during the August War of 2008, gave a speech on the Senate floor calling on all Americans to get involved in the cause of human ...

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Did you know there will be massive human rights protests across Russia this Saturday? Well, John McCain is all over the situation.

McCain, who famously declared "We are all Georgians" during the August War of 2008, gave a speech on the Senate floor calling on all Americans to get involved in the cause of human rights in Russia and lambasting the Kremlin for its harsh treatment of opposition and activist leaders.

Did you know there will be massive human rights protests across Russia this Saturday? Well, John McCain is all over the situation.

McCain, who famously declared "We are all Georgians" during the August War of 2008, gave a speech on the Senate floor calling on all Americans to get involved in the cause of human rights in Russia and lambasting the Kremlin for its harsh treatment of opposition and activist leaders.

"This is about universal values — values that we in the United States embody but do not own … values that should shape the conduct of every government, be it ours or Russia’s or any other country’s," McCain said, "And when we see citizens of conviction seeking to hold their governments to the higher standard of human rights, we should speak up for them."

McCain hasn’t given up the cause of the Georgians since the end of the presidential campaign. He visited the country in January and made a stop at the border of the breakaway region of Abkhazia, where Russian troops still remain.

"I know that Washington has a lot of foreign-policy challenges at the moment, but we cannot forget Georgia and the support it deserves amid a continuing threat from its neighbor to the north," he said.

Back in 2008, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili declared McCain a "national hero" of Georgia when he visited in January and gave him a Vietnam-war revolver (pictured) that was captured off a Russian soldier at the ceremony.

McCain also recently met with opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Washington. When McCain asked Nemtsov what Americans could do to support human rights activists in Russia, Nemtsov said, "Speak up for it. And speak up for us." 

Here’s what the State Department’s newly released report on human rights practices had to say about Russia:

  • "Direct and indirect government interference in local and regional elections restricted the ability of citizens to change their government through free and fair elections."
  • "During the year there were a number of high profile killings of human rights activists by unknown persons, apparently for reasons related to their professional activities. There were numerous, credible reports that law enforcement personnel engaged in physical abuse of subjects. Prison conditions were harsh and could be life threatening."
  • "Eight journalists, many of whom reported critically on the government, were killed during the year; with one exception the government failed to identify, arrest, or prosecute any suspects. Beating and intimidation of journalists remained a problem."
  • "The government limited freedom of assembly, and police sometimes used violence to prevent groups from engaging in peaceful protest."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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