Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has described actresses who say they were sexually harassed by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as "prostitutes," and suggested they should have spoken out earlier.
Speaking to students at a Moscow university on March 29, Peskov said that some of the actresses who spoke out against Weinstein became "Hollywood stars" and "did a lot that is not compatible with our notions of honor and dignity."
"They earned hundreds of millions of dollars and 10 years later, they say Weinstein is a bad man," said Peskov, who previously has not commented on the widely reported sexual-harassment claims.
"Maybe [Weinstein] is a scumbag, but none of them went to the police! No, they wanted to earn $10 million," Peskov said. "What do you call a woman who slept with a man for $10 million? Maybe I'm being crude, but she's called a prostitute."
More than 50 women have accused Weinstein of offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape, including Ashley Judd and some other well-known Hollywood actresses.
Weinstein is alleged to have employed private investigators and legal threats to discredit and intimidate his accusers and stop them from going public with sexual-misconduct claims.
Peskov made his remarks in response to a question about accusations of sexual harassment made by journalists against a senior member of the Russian parliament.
Several reporters with Western or independent media have accused Leonid Slutsky, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament's lower house, of making lewd sexual comments and groping.
The parliamentary Ethics Commission ruled on March 21 that Slutsky had not committed any violations of "behavioral norms," prompting more than 20 media outlets to pull their journalists from covering the lower house.
Peskov has so far refused to comment on this in his official capacity, but he told students the women should have reported the offenses immediately.
“If he groped you, if he harassed you, why did you remain silent? Why didn’t you go to the police? Why did so much time pass, and then you went to the Ethics Commission?" Peskov asked.
The Kremlin spokesman noted that women in the United States and elsewhere have been speaking out increasingly about sexual harassment, sometimes years after an alleged offense occurred, and suggested that Slutsky's accusers were making "something of a fashion statement."
“We’re trying to keep up with the mayhem that’s been happening in America,” he said.