Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman labeled Hollywood actresses, who accused disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting them, as “prostitutes.”
Dmitry Peskov made the derogatory comment during a discussion panel at Moscow University, claiming the women should have spoken out earlier. The comment came as a reaction when Peskov was asked a question regarding Russian PM Leonid Slutsky, who was accused by multiple women off sexual harassment.
The comparisons were made after Slutsky himself compared his defamation to that of the American film producer, calling the accusations against him were an attempt to portray him as “the Russian Weinstein.”
Peskov stated if the allegations against Slutsky were true, these women should have spoken out earlier. He also claimed these accusers chose to come forward only after sexual harassment was made “fashionable.”
“If he groped you, if he harassed you, why did you remain silent? Why didn’t you go to the police?” Peskov asked.
This particular response has been the reaction of most Russian political figures ever since Slutsky was accused in the harassment scandal.
Peskov, like Slutsky, compared the accusers to those in the Weinstein case, “Maybe he’s a scumbag, but nobody went to the police and said ‘Weinstein raped me.' No, they wanted to earn $10m. What do you call a woman who sleeps with a man for $10m? Maybe I’m being crude, but she’s called a prostitute.”
Weinstein was accused by more than 50 women with the allegations ranging from harassment to rape. He allegedly also threatened his accusers from going public with sexual misconduct claims.
A lot like the rest of the world, women in Russia often fear coming forward with any such allegations. Yet, several Russian journalists came forward and accused Slutsky of inappropriate behavior, including an audio clip where he made inappropriate comments to one of the journalists and allegedly tried to grope her.
However, Duma’s ethics committee recently cleared Slutsky of any misconduct. A leaked transcript of the hearing showed the women who accused the Russian PM were treated with discrimination with officials hinting that it was their fault they got harassed.
“I can see for myself if a woman is available or not,” Vladimir Pozdnyakov, a Communist party MP who sits on the Duma’s ethics committee, told the Russian website lenta.ru. “I notice their haircut, and jewelry and clothes — how she tried to look. As men, we can feel this.”
Since Slutsky was exonerated, at least 20 Russian media companies have boycotted coverage of the Duma until Slutsky’s authorization is revoked.
“The younger generations don’t believe this nonsense that harassment is a normal part of relations. The norms are changing across the world and they are starting to change in Russia, too,” said women’s rights campaigner Alena Popova.
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