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Russian Opposition Media Editor Quits Amid Wave of Harassment Claims

Sergei Prostakov stepped down as MBKh Media's chief editor after he was accused of sexual harassment and assault. MBKh Media / Youtube

The editor-in-chief of the MBKh Media news website announced his resignation Monday amid the latest spate of sexual harassment allegations to hit Russia's independent media sector. 

Sergei Prostakov was among several high-ranking media and banking executives to face claims of sexual assault, harassment and rape posted on Twitter by former employees and interns this week. 

“I apologize to my readers, colleagues, friends and everyone I let down,” Prostakov wrote in his social media post announcing he was stepping down as the opposition news website’s chief editor.

Prostakov’s ex-girlfriend, who accused him of rape, catalyzed the slew of Twitter threads alleging sexual harassment by men in media and other industries. Several other users accused Prostakov of groping and harassing them at work meetings and parties.

At least one post alleged that Prostakov and MBKh Media’s photo editor were in involved in a gang rape at a party about five years ago. 

The photo editor apologized for his past behavior but characterized the alleged gang rape as “group sex by mutual consent.” Prostakov said he had no recollection of that night, saying he was under the influence of alcohol.

MBKh Media has not yet addressed the allegations.

The claims are the latest in a string of harassment allegations at some of Russia's main liberal media outlets in recent years. In 2018, the Meduza news website’s chief editor briefly resigned following claims of groping a colleague’s wife at a party. This year, the longtime chief editor of the Ekho Moskvy radio station faced accusations of making unwanted advancements — claims he apologized for but denied wrongdoing.

All three of the outlets were instrumental in a 2018 campaign to boycott State Duma lawmaker Leonid Slutsky, who was accused of sexually harassing at least five female journalists. A parliamentary ethics commission dismissed the claims and Slutsky continues to serve in Russian parliament.

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