Russian Journalists Stripped of Parliamentary Accreditation in #MeToo Harassment Row

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Moscow

As many as 48 reporters have been barred from the State Duma after protesting alleged sexual harassment of colleagues by a senior lawmaker.

Dozens of reporters for Russian media outlets have been stripped of their parliamentary accreditation after supporting allegations of sexual harassment against a senior lawmaker.

More than 30 Russian newspapers, radio and television outlets are boycotting coverage of the State Duma (parliament) after accusing it of failing to take allegations of sexual harassment against Leonid Slutsky seriously.

Slustky, the powerful head of the Duma's International Relations Committee, is said to have allegedly cornered women in his office and, on at least one occasion, touched a female reporter on her pubis.

As Russian media's #MeToo moment escalated last week, dozens of outlets announced a boycott of their parliamentary coverage in protest after the Duma's ethics committee exonerated Slutsky, ruling that he "didn't violate" the legislative body’s code of conduct.

Parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has now stripped 48 correspondents from outlets that include business daily RBC, independent web-based TV channel Dozhd, newsmagazine Novaya Gazeta and online news site Znak of their State Duma accreditation. Other outlets that have supported the boycott don’t have reporters with permanent Duma accreditation credentials.

Volodin, a loyal supporter of President Vladimir Putin — who won re-election to his fourth term on March 18 — has told journalists supporting the boycott that they "should find other jobs" if they were unhappy covering the boycott. He was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying that journalists shouldn't "exert pressure on Duma members."

Meanwhile, as the row escalates, other Russian journalists are emerging with their own stories of harassment, including one male reporter who alleges Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the LDPR, Russia's right-wing nationalist party, sexually harassed him.

Vitaly Tretyakov, dean of Moscow State University's School of Television, has been vilified by students after telling them that "any decent man in certain circumstances can put his hand on a woman's exposed knee … or any other place."

Tretyakov, who was talking to students on Friday at Novosibirsk State University in Siberia about the Slutsky case, someone he says he knows well, was criticized by students in the audience, many of whom walked out. Footage of the incident shot on a mobile telephone was later broadcast by TV station RTV1.