Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the State Duma’s International Relations Committee faces allegations of sexual harassment of young female correspondents, accredited to Russian parliament, but he denies the wrongdoings and dabs complains as a “provocation” in the view of the ongoing presidential elections campaign.
“I’m flattered that for projection of Harvey Weinstein onto Russia they have chosen my humble personality, but it was a poor choice” – Leonid Slutsky said to Russian newspaper ‘Vedomosti’.
The journalistic community does not take the allegations lightly and demands an investigation, insisting the harassment is incompatible with the high status of a member of the State Duma. Meanwhile the editor of RTVi Ekaterina Kotrikadze (Екатерина Котрикадзе) openly accused Slutsky in sexual harassment taking place back in 2011, she was the first to step out of anonymity.
Leonid Slutsky, a member of Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), is confronted with complains failed by at least three accredited to State Duma young female journalists, one of them said the committee chair promised her an interview on condition of dining together, but she declined the proposal.
In response to the allegations, deputy Duma speaker Igor Lebedev (LDPR), proposed revoking the Duma accreditation of Dozhd TV journalists, who dared to make these complaints public in their emission. The mass media should act responsibly, Lebedev continued, pointing at absence of any evidence, and describing the situation as an attempt to follow an American trend #MeToo, and search for “Russian Weinsteins”.
Discussing the situation in social media female journalists who worked in Duma confirmed that there are deputies who consider normal to flirt with young women, without considering if their advances are appropriate in the working context.
However the Women’s Club of State Duma, chaired by four deputies, representing their political groups, published a statement in support of Leonid Slutsky, claiming he is widely known as a “responsible politician”, and the incident resembling a “staged operation of his discrediting .”
Meanwhile Oksana Pushkina, a former TV presenter and vice-chair of the Committee on Women, Family and Children pledged to include the notion of ‘harassment’ in Russian legislation. Pushkina also regretted that traditionally women are silent about harassment “flourishing” in Russian society, she also encouraged fellow journalists to pursue their cause and not to give up.
Slutsky tweets he continues to work in spite of the false allegations, posting his picture together with Austrian minister of foreign affairs.