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Head of Duma Women's Committee Says Slutsky Was Probably Joking

Sergei Savostyanov / TASS

A Russian lawmaker in charge of women’s issues has criticized several female journalists who have accused a senior State Duma deputy of sexual harassment.

A fifth journalist this week came out with allegations that State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky had made inappropriate comments and gestures. The unprecedented accusations against a senior lawmaker have caused a storm online and in the media, but have widely been dismissed by public figures.

Earlier, Vyacheslav Volodin, the Speaker of the State Duma, recommended that female reporters change jobs if they feel threatened by men in the lower house of Russian parliament.

Tamara Pletnyova, head of the committee on family, women, and children told the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Wednesday that she had known Slutsky for a long time and that he was a “well-spoken, intellectual man with a warm attitude to women.”

“Maybe he might have been joking a little bit,” she said. “But I’ll never believe he offended a woman.”

Instead, she pointed a finger at the journalists, saying they should dress “more adequately.”

“This is a government institution, not a place to walk around with exposed belly buttons,” she added.

Guidelines issued by the State Duma to accredited journalists proposes they wear “formal clothing,” while in the building.

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