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Josh Meyer @JoshMeyerDC
, 15 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
For more than seven years, @SenJohnMcCain and Vladimir Kara-Murz aka @vkaramurza had each other’s backs as each criticized Putin and what they saw as his autocratic tendencies in Russia. /1
Last April, a mutual friend brought Kara-Murza a personal message from McCain. The senator had been diagnosed nine months earlier with an aggressive form of brain tumor known as a glioblastoma and wanted the young Russian to be a pallbearer at his funeral. Would he agree? /2
“I was speechless and heartbroken, close to tears at that moment,” Kara-Murza told POLITICO today. “I said yes, of course, and that it would be the most heartbreaking honor that anyone could think of.” /3
McCain didn’t believe his death was imminent at the time, Kara-Murza recalls. “But he knew how it was going to end, and he was planning everything.” /4
“We all knew this day would come but, hoped it would not be soon," @vkaramurza said on the call. He called McCain a mentor, and the only U.S. leader who can "see through" Putin, dating back to when he was running for POTUS in 2000 and Putin was a "reformist" St. Petersburg mayor.
Officially, @vkaramurza divides his time between Washington and Moscow, is vice chair of the Open Russia movement and chair of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, established in honor of the dissident political leader assassinated in 2015 for taking on Kremlin corruption./6
Unofficially, with help from McCain, Kara-Murza has positioned himself as perhaps the biggest full-time thorn in Putin’s side. /7
"Vladimir is a brave, outspoken, and relentless advocate for freedom and democracy in Russia, McCain said of @vkaramurza in 2015, after his first sudden onset of multiple organ failure put him in a coma and nearly killed him. /8
Doctors told him it was poison, but of a kind too sophisticated to determine. He recovered, and went back to work. Two years later, he says, the same thing happened again. He told Moscow reporters that his doctor warned that the third time he won't be so lucky. /9
@SenJohnMcCain and @vkaramurza worked together to pass the anti-Putin Magnitsky Act in the U.S., in honor of another Russian dissident who died in prison, on trumped-up charges, of criminal medical neglect /10
The political emergence of Trump and his coziness with Putin brought the two even closer together. /11
A month into his presidency, Trump was asked by Fox News' @BillOReilly about Putin’s penchant for murdering political adversaries. "We've got a lot of killers,” Trump retorted. “What, you think our country's so innocent?" /12
That outraged @SenJohnMcCain, who said in an angry speech that his friend @vkaramurza "knew that there was no moral equivalence between the United States and Putin's Russia. /13
Knowing @SenJohnMcCain well as he does, @vkaramurza told me, he believes he had some higher purpose in mind in selecting him as a pallbearer on Saturday than embarrassing Putin or Trump. /14
“For me, this has nothing to do with politics, it is very personal,” he said. “He wasn’t a politician. He was a statesman all his life.”

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