Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino kept up the drum beat for a one-on-one televised debate, saying in a statement that even Russian President Vladimir Putin debates his political opponents.

“Vladimir Putin debated his opponent on television in Russia,” Astorino said in a statement. “But Andrew Cuomo won’t do the same in New York. What does that tell you about him? What does Mr. Cuomo have to hide?”

The Cuomo-as-Putin meme is one that has bounced around Republican circles for a little while now. A weekly newspaper in Glens Falls even devoted an entire column to comparing the two politicians.

For what it is worth, Cuomo is yet to invade the territory of another country, imprison political opponents, crack down on free speech and use state-run media to influence public opinion.

And, Putin didn’t actually debate his opponents in 2012, choosing instead to send surrogates.

Still, Republicans like the unflattering parallel, especially when it casts the governor as an autocrat who favors his friends, bends politics to his will and punishes enemies.

Astorino remains miffed over the Cuomo campaign not agreeing to a one-on-one TV debate, and trying to out maneuver him by agreeing to a pair of debates without consulting his campaign.

Team Cuomo backs a TV debate featuring the Green and Libertarian candidates and a radio-only, one-on-one debate.

“Andrew Cuomo travels to Afghanistan to support troops fighting for democracy, and then blatantly disrespects the democratic process here in New York,” Astorino said. “Mr. Cuomo is insulting the intelligence of New Yorkers, who pay the highest taxes in America in a state with the worst economic outlook in America. This state’s voters deserve to see and hear the major party candidates in a debate of ideas before Election Day.”

Astorino has accepted every debate invitation offered, including one made by Time Warner Cable News and NY1.