A male journalist has come out to publicly accuse veteran Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky of sexual harassment after State Duma deputies cleared his fellow LDPR party member of impropriety.
The Duma ethics commission earlier this week said it found nothing wrong with the “behavioral norms” of deputy Leonid Slutsky, accused by at least five female journalists of sexual harassment. Protesting the decision, dozens of Russian media organizations launched a boycott of news from the Duma until a serious investigation of the harassment claims took place.
Current Time TV reporter Renat Davletgildeyev became the first Russian male journalist to allege publicly that he was sexually harassed by a senior politician, recalling an incident during an interview with Zhirinovsky after the 2006 Miss Russia pageant finals in Moscow.
“He himself, while giving a short interview, was feeling up my a-- so much that my hands were shaking with the recorder,” Davletgildeyev wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday, noting that he was intimidated by Zhirinovsky’s status and blamed himself for the encounter.
Davletgildeyev told the Ekho Moskvy radio station in an interview Friday that he didn’t plan to press charges against Zhirinovsky because the incident had occurred over a decade ago.
Zhirinovsky’s son, State Duma deputy speaker Igor Lebedev, threatened to “punch [Davletgildeyev] in the face” if he met him.
“Of course it’s slander! Another message by someone from a news source that we don’t understand against a famous politician and State Duma deputy is once again an unfounded accusation,” Lebedev told the state-run TASS news agency Thursday.
Russian activists, meanwhile, have begun staging one-person protests against Slutsky outside the Duma building in Moscow early Friday.