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Russia foreign ministry spokeswoman accuses MP of sexual harassment

Russia foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova became the latest woman to accuse senior lawmaker Leonid Slutsky of sexual harassment on Saturday.

Four journalists have accused Slutsky, the head of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, of inappropriate sexual conduct over the past few weeks.

“Leonid started saying things in a restaurant that I found very unpleasant,” Zakharova told Russia’s NTV television when asked about the claims.

“I was surprised to see that those present… did not say anything at the time and did not support me,” she said, adding that the incident took place in Saint Petersburg five years ago “when I was not a well-known person”.

“I completely oppose those who say that see, she only makes this up now, she’s that kind of girl, she does not dress properly, all of this is invented.”

Three of the journalists have gone public with their accusations, which include making lewd sexual comments and groping, breaking the silence on a subject that remains largely taboo in Russia.

Slutsky has labelled the claims as “cheap, low-grade provocation” and dismissed them as a political attack ordered by his enemies. He even said the scandal “boosted my gravitas rather than took it away”.

However on on International Women’s Day on Thursday Slutsky apologised for the first time.

“I would like to apologise to those of you I have wittingly or unwittingly caused distress,” he said on Facebook. “Trust me, I meant no harm.”

The 50-year-old MP in the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party has been widely supported by his colleagues so far, including the party’s leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who accused the women of “receiving orders from the West”.


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