A host at Russia’s state-funded broadcaster RT was suspended Sunday after he made calls on the air to “drown or burn” Ukrainian children who viewed Soviet Russia as an occupier.
Anton Krasovsky’s remarks on his RT show broadcast Thursday sparked widespread outrage over the weekend. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused the Kremlin-controlled channel of “aggressive genocide incitement” and advocated for a global ban of RT.
Krasovsky, a pro-war presenter under EU sanctions, said Ukrainian children should be “thrown straight into a river with a strong current” or “burned in a hut” for calling Russians occupiers.
His comments came in response to an account by his guest, Russian science fiction author Sergei Lukyanenko, of his encounter with anti-Russian children during his visit to Ukraine in the 1980s.
The segment containing Krasovsky’s remarks has since been deleted from RT’s social media accounts.
RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan distanced the broadcaster from Krasovsky’s “disgusting” comments and said she was “stopping our collaboration for the moment.”
“Perhaps Anton will explain what temporary insanity caused” the controversial statement, Simonyan wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Krasovsky later issued an apology, saying early Monday that he “got carried away on the air.”
“I apologize to everyone who was freaked out, I apologize to Margarita, to everyone who thought [the comments] wild, unthinkable and insurmountable,” he wrote on Russia’s VKontakte social network.
Simonyan’s rare punishment of an on-air personality for remarks on Ukraine stands in contrast to regular anti-Ukrainian rhetoric on Russian state television.
Kremlin-controlled broadcasters including RT actively support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and echo the Kremlin’s denials of war crime allegations.
Russia’s top investigative body, the Investigative Committee, said Monday that its chairman Alexander Bastrykin has ordered a report into Krasovsky’s statements after receiving a complaint from an online user.
In a since-deleted post, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced what she called a “targeted information attack” against Krasovsky, calling the RT host a “fantastically talented” commentator of “obvious and truthful” information.