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White House: Putin can say what he wants, U.S. has freedom of speech

- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2013

Continuing President Obama's tit for tat with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House said Thursday that the Russian leader enjoyed in his op-ed article in The New York Times the kind of freedom of expression that Moscow doesn't tolerate from its citizens.

"We're not surprised by President Putin's words," White House press secretary Jay Carney said, "but the fact is, Russia offers a stark contrast" to America's freedoms and human rights.

Mr. Carney said of freedom of speech in the U.S.: "That is not a tradition shared in Russia. Freedom of expression has been on the decrease" in recent years.

He also said Russia is "isolated and alone" in blaming the Syrian opposition for a horrific chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21.

Mr. Putin wrote in his op-ed that Mr. Obama was wrong to cite "American exceptionalism" in his push to punish the Syrian regime. The Russian said it's "dangerous" for any nation to call itself exceptional, and he accused the U.S. of using its military might too often.

He also said there was good reason to believe that the Syrian rebels were responsible for the use of chemical weapons.

The sniping came as Secretary of State John F. Kerry met with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in Switzerland to work on a deal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control.

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