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'World Is Built On Sexual Harassment,' Says Top Russian Filmmaker On Weinstein Scandal

Allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape against acclaimed U.S. movie producer Harvey Weinstein have engulfed Western media in recent weeks.

MOSCOW -- The slew of allegations of sexual assault and harassment cleaving showbiz since Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's downfall have elicited a mixed reaction in Russia.

But they get very short shrift from a Russian film luminary.

Leading director Andrei Konchalovsky has become the latest Russian to play down the scandals rocking the West, arguing that sexual harassment is normal.

"As far as sexual harassment is concerned, actually I think the whole world has always been built on it," he told the Izvestia newspaper on November 9. "Men must make passes at women, and women must resist."

Last month, allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape against acclaimed Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein engulfed Western media, triggering criminal investigations on both sides of the Atlantic and allegations of misconduct by other powerful men. It has also fueled a #MeToo social-media campaign in which millions of women aired their own accusations or otherwise condemned sexual misconduct.

'Such Stupidity'

The allegations have been met with shrugs by many in Russia, where top officials are fond of publicly promoting "traditional" patriarchal family values and frequently maligning the West for liberalism, tolerance, and political correctness.

Director Andrei Konchalovsky at the Russian national film awards earlier this year
Director Andrei Konchalovsky at the Russian national film awards earlier this year

Konchalovsky, 80, joked that in light of the accusations, "it turns out that all men must be taken to court."

He also argued that a similar scandal -- which he described as "such stupidity" -- is impossible in Russia, seemingly suggesting news of such behavior would not elicit any reaction.

"Men are men and women are women," he said. "Thank god we live in a country where political correctness hasn't reached the absurd. When you can't call a man a man, a woman a woman and you have to call them a person. I believe this is an aberration of neoconservative-globalists that is disastrous for the family. And for everything."

He contended that a similar scandal might be possible within the confines of the Garden Ring road that surrounds central Moscow but would not really resonate in the same way among ordinary Russians.

'No Sex In America'

The award-winning Konchalovsky emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States in the 1980s and spent years among the Hollywood elite, and boasts many successful "U.S. genre films" -- including Tango And Cash and Runaway Train -- in addition to his Russian works.

Konchalovsky also suggested to Izvestia that the accusations against Weinstein were part of a conspiracy by U.S. President Donald Trump to demonize former U.S. Secretary of State and defeated presidential rival Hillary Clinton. He echoed Western reports citing Weinstein's contributions to Clinton's 2016 campaign (which were also highlighted by other Russian media).

The Weinstein saga got Russian state media treatment on November 5 on a flagship political affairs show hosted by Dmitry Kiselyov, head of the government-controlled news and media group Rossiya Segodnya.

After saying he is "categorically against sexual harassment," Kiselyov added that the scandal is sucking the sex out of America and that the furor "threatens to destroy the humor in people's relationships."

"There is no sex in America...[and] the sexual revolution is a thing of the past," Kiselyov said. "Now everything can be seen as dirty harassment."