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Sexual-Harassment Complaint Against Russian Lawmaker Filed


Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Russian State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, addresses the State Duma in Moscow in December.

A committee of the Russian parliament's lower chamber, the State Duma, says it has received an official complaint from a journalist accusing Leonid Slutsky of sexually harassing her, the latest such claim against the powerful Russian lawmaker.

Otari Arshba, the head of the Ethics Committee, confirmed on March 2 that Darya Zhuk, a producer at the independent Internet TV channel Dozhd, had submitted the complaint.

Arshba said the complaint would only be reviewed preliminarily after Russia's presidential election on March 18 and after Slutsky, chairman of the Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, was given a chance to comment first.

Arshba said the complaint would only be addressed officially by the committee if the facts looked "persuasive."

Zhuk said on March 1 that she filed the complaint with Arshba's committee regarding, as she described it, Slutsky's attempt to forcibly kiss her and touch her body in a Dozhd TV studio in 2014.

State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on March 2 that he will take the situation under his personal control, saying that the Ethics Committee will look into the complaints against Slutsky.

Zhuk is the second woman to publicly accuse Slutsky of sexual harassment.

The deputy editor in chief of Russia's RTVI television company, Yekaterina Kotrikadze, publicly accused Slutsky on February 27, saying that he tried to kiss her and touched her in his office seven years ago, but she managed to run away.

Kotrikadze said she had not talked about the incident before, fearing "bad consequences" if she did.

Zhuk may be the woman referred to on February 22 during a televised interview with presidential candidate and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

During the interview with Dozhd, journalist Yelizaveta Antonova, who covers the Duma, asked Zhirinovsky if he was aware that Slutsky "constantly harasses young female journalists," adding that a Dozhd producer claimed Slutsky had tried to kiss and grope her before an on-air appearance.

Zhirinovsky said he would look into it. The following day, two other journalists, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Dozhd they had been harassed by Slutsky.

Slutsky on February 23 told the newspaper Vedomosti that the accusations were "an election-campaign provocation."

On February 27, presidential candidate and journalist Ksenia Sobchak called for an investigation into the sexual-harassment allegations against Slutsky.

Slutsky, who is a member of the LDPR, has denied the allegations.

In response to the allegations, deputy Duma speaker Igor Lebedev, also from the LDPR, proposed revoking the Duma accreditations of Dozhd journalists.

With reporting by Dozhd, Kommersant, and RTVI
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