UNITED NATIONS, October 20 (RIA Novosti) -
Russia's permanent mission to the UN has received a letter from U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain asking for financial support of his election campaign, the mission said in a statement on Monday.
"We have received a letter from Senator John McCain with a request for a financial donation to his presidential election campaign. In this respect we have to reiterate that neither Russia's permanent mission to the UN nor the Russian government or its officials finance political activities in foreign countries," the statement said.
According to Ruslan Bakhtin, press secretary of the Russian mission, the letter dated September 29 and signed by McCain, was addressed to Vitaly Churkin, Russia's envoy to the UN, and arrived on October 16. The ambassador's title was not included in the letter, and was not clear why the letter had taken over two weeks to arrive.
Enclosed was a request for a donation of up to $5,000 to McCain's election campaign to be returned with a check or permission to withdraw the money from the donor's credit card until October 24. Individual donations to candidates' election campaigns are capped by law at $2,300, and it is illegal to accept donations from foreign nationals.
McCain accepted the $84 million in public financing available to his election campaign, and consequently cannot accept private donations. However, the Republican National Committee is collecting donations that can be used to support his candidacy in limited ways.
Legal barriers aside, the request and the official response from the Russian mission appear even more confusing in the light of McCain's overall negative attitude toward Russia.
Last year he said the G8 should exclude Russia, citing "diminishing political freedoms, a leadership dominated by a clique of former intelligence officers, [and] efforts to bully democratic neighbors."
Russia's UN Ambassador Receives Fundraising Letter from the McCain-Palin Campaign,
The Russian Mission to the United Nations issued a bizarre statement to the UN press corps today stating simply, "We have received a letter from Senator John McCain requesting financial contribution to his Presidential campaign. In this connection we would like to reiterate that Russian officials, the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations or the Russian Government do not finance political activity in foreign countries."
Intrigued, I called the Russian Mission and a press officer there directed me to this item on the Mission's website. It seems that the McCain-Palin campaign sent a generic fundraising letter to Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly I Churkin. The letter, dated September 29, 2008, reads in part:
Dear Friend...Today I am reaching out to you to ask you to sign and return the enclosed 2008 Pledge of Support along with a campaign contribution of $35, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, $2,500 or even $5,000 to the McCain-Palin Victory 2008.
The spokesperson from the Russian UN Mission believes that that this letter was received in error.