Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Igor Lebedev has called for several female journalists to be barred after they accused a fellow party member of sexual harassment.
Three female journalists told Dozhd TV on the condition of anonymity that State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), had made inappropriate remarks and touched them while in the Duma.
“He placed his palm on my inner thigh and slid his hand upwards,” one of the journalists was cited as saying. “We are no longer in contact, and I avoid him.”
Igor Lebedev, the son of the LDPR’s long-time leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, on Twitter accused the journalists of unethical behavior and said his party would seek to have their accreditation revoked.
Slutsky’s behaviour was common knowledge among the deputies, according to the journalists accusing him. One journalist was cited as saying she feared losing access to the Duma if she complained.
Slutsky, who also serves as Head of the Duma’s committee on foreign affairs, denied the accusations and took a stab at Dozhd.
“When your work can’t be faulted, provocations like this appear,” he told the RBC business portal. “This is common practice for Dozhd.”
Zhirinovsky, the LDPR’s leader, told Dozhd in a broadcast that Slutsky might have been “trying to attract the journalists’ attention.”
Zhirinovsky himself made headlines after he called on his aides to “rape” a pregnant journalist during a press conference in April 2014 when she asked whether Russia should retaliate against the travel restrictions placed on Russian men by Ukraine.