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Media boycott after Russian MP cleared of journalists' sexual harassment

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By Chris Harris
Media boycott after Russian MP cleared of journalists' sexual harassment

Media have withdrawn their reporters from Russia’s lower parliament in a display of solidarity over sexual harassment claims.

Several outlets have pulled out of the Duma in a protest over the exoneration of a Russian MP.

Leonid Slutsky, 50, was accused of a series of unwanted sexual advances towards journalists covering the parliament.

Earlier this week, a parliamentary ethics commission exonerated Slutsky and said he had not violated any “behavioural norms”.

The saga is being seen by some people as the belated start of a #MeToo movement in Russia.

Russian language media outlet RBC, TV Rain, RTVI and Echo of Moscow launched a boycott in protest at the commission’s decision.

RBC said in a statement: “RBC has, since March 21, withdrawn journalists working to cover the activities of the State Duma.

“This decision was made by the outlet’s management as a sign of disagreement with the conclusions of the State Duma’s ethics commission, which found no evidence of sexual harassment of Russian journalists by the head of the Duma’s international affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky.

"By this decision, the ethics commission, in fact, recognised as a norm the possibility of sexual harassment of journalists by newsmakers.

“We do not agree with this approach and refuse to consider the Duma's position on this issue as normal.”

Slutsky said the claims were "cheap, low-grade provocation" and dismissed them as a political attack ordered by his enemies.

Oksana Pushkina, a Duma deputy from the ruling United Russia party and a former journalist, expressed support for the outlets.

"The problem [of sexual harassment] exists in this country and it must be tackled through legislation," she told state-run news agency RIA Novosti. "I will do everything in my power."