Head of the State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov has mocked a deadly shooting in Washington on Monday, producing an outcry over his comments in the U.S.
Thirteen people were killed and eight were injured in a mass shooting at the Navy Yard, a secure military complex in in the U.S. capital, leading authorities to lock down part of the city.
The shooter was identified as 34-year old Aaron Alexis after being killed in a gunfight with police. He was a former Navy reservist who had access to the facility in his role as an IT contractor. Police initially reported that he had acted with an accomplice, but by Monday evening they confirmed that Alexis was a lone gunman, The Associated Press reported.
The motives behind the killing remain unclear. U.S. President Barack Obama called the shooting a "cowardly act" and declared a mourning that will last through Friday.
While many politicians around the world expressed their condolences over the shooting, Pushkov called the attack an example of "American exceptionalism."
"A new shootout at Navy headquarters in Washington — a lone gunman and 7 corpses. Nobody's even surprised anymore. A clear confirmation of American exceptionalism,'" he wrote on Twitter.
He went on, saying "The U.S.A. should part with the notion of American exceptionalism. It contradicts the principles of equal rights and smells of political racism."
Pushkov's comments on American-centric worldviews echoed those that President Vladimir Putin voiced in a The New York Times op-ed last week.
In a piece dedicated to avoiding military intervention in Syria, Putin called the idea "dangerous" and implicitly criticized a recent Obama speech that claimed the U.S. commitment to respond to a chemical attack in the Middle Eastern country was what made his nation exceptional.
Pushkov, who apparently has been facing severe backlash over his comments, later wrote that "the torrent of hate towards us from American citizens is staggering."
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow also responded to Pushkov directly on Twitter, saying, "What is exceptional here? Why use a tragedy to score political points?"
Pushkov continued to criticize the U.S. government, however, noting that there was a “new wave” of anti-war sentiment among the American population and a “distrust of those who call for war.” Obama clearly didn’t expect such a turn of events,” he wrote.
Later, he said that between 300,000 and 400,000 people had died in Iraq since 2003, adding that “such a high price comes from external interference.”
Pushkov’s last comment seemed to be a warning against a U.S. military strike in Syria, something U.S. and Russian officials have been butting heads over for several weeks now.