Russian pro-Kremlin media pulled no punches on Monday in condemning John McCain, who died of a brain tumour at the weekend, as Washington’s “chief Russophobe”.
McCain, who died aged 81 on Saturday, irked Russia with his support for pro-Western leaders in ex-Soviet Georgia and Ukraine as well as his strong backing for sanctions over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
“McCain became the chief symbol of Russophobia,” Rossiya 1 television said, adding that he “couldn’t stand Russia’s independent foreign policy”.
McCain “adored war. If you haven’t been killed yet, that’s not McCain’s fault. He tried,” wrote pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda in a biting editorial.
Accusing the former Navy pilot of lying about being tortured while being held prisoner during the Vietnam War, the popular tabloid concluded with the hope that McCain is now burning in hell.
“Senator McCain loved the flames of war. Let’s believe he’ll have enough flames where his soul is resting now,” it wrote.
Life News, a pro-Kremlin tabloid news site, mocked the “chief Russophobe” for his decision to publish a 2013 op-ed aimed at Russians on an obscure news site called Pravda.ru.
He apparently believed the website to be connected the once-powerful Soviet newspaper Pravda.
“Evidently no one told the senator that there had been certain changes in Russia since his time in captivity in Vietnam,” it wrote.
McCain was “a convinced hawk who pecked at Russia out of principle,” Rossiya 1 reported on its main news show on Sunday evening, devoting more than four minutes to the senator’s life.
McCain “firmly supported all the military operations and wars that America unleashed — Kosovo, Iraq, Libya — if he had not twice lost presidential campaigns, everything could have been even more catastrophic,” it reported.
The high-rating show included the detail that McCain “was shot down in Vietnam by a Soviet SA 75-Dvina missile complex”.
While stressing McCain’s contempt for President Donald Trump, the show predicted that US “attempts to restrain and isolate Russia with harsh sanctions will continue — just now without John McCain”.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued a message of condolences, but none was forthcoming from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Senate’s international affairs committee, wrote on Facebook that McCain’s “only ideology” was “protect your own and beat up the others”.
However some Russian politicians showed their respects.
Leonid Slutsky, head of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told the RIA Novosti state news agency that McCain was a “courageous and principled person”.
Oleg Morozov, a member of the Senate’s foreign affairs committee, on Facebook praised McCain’s frankness.
“An enemy died, salute him for honest enmity, for honest hatred, for refusal to reconcile. Others dissemble. He said what he thought.”