Another journalist comes forward about State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky's sexual harassment, and she's got an audio recording
Farida Rustamova, one of the journalists who previously came forward anonymously to the TV station Dozhd, is now speaking openly about sexual harassment by State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky. The BBC reporter says Slutsky groped her in March 2017, and she has an audio recording of the encounter.
Rustamova came to Slutsky’s office a year ago to get a comment about Marine Le Pen’s visit to Moscow. Rustamova recorded her entire conversation with Slutsky, who started flirting and calling her “little bunny” and “little rabbit,” saying that she was “running away from him” and “didn’t want to kiss.” When Rustamova told him that she had a boyfriend, he answered, “That’s great. You’ll be his wife and my mistress.”
Near the end of their conversation, Rustamova says Slutsky placed his hand above her vagina. “I started stammering and babbling. I was petrified. I mumbled, ‘I’m not coming back here again. You take your hands off me,’” she recalls. Slutsky said he would only remove his hands “a little bit.”
Rustamova is one of the journalists who came forward anonymously to the television station Dozhd last month. She says she considered accusing Slutsky publicly after he accosted her, but she was scared of taking him on alone.
According to Rustamova, another reason for remaining silent was that fact that she blamed herself for a long time. “Why couldn’t I have reacted in the moment? Why couldn’t I have screamed at him and hit him?” Rustamova told the BBC. “Another person might have thrown something at him, but I just stood there like I was drenched in shit and couldn’t move from my spot. I was tormented by the fact that you can hear my pathetic babbling in the recording.”
Multiple Russian journalists have accused Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, of sexual harassment. In late February, three women came forward anonymously to Dozhd, and they were later joined by RTVI deputy chief editor Ekaterina Katrikadze and Dozhd producer Darya Zhuk.
Slutsky, who denies any wrongdoing, says the sexual harassment allegations have actually improved his “standing” in the Russian legislature. Most of his colleagues in the Duma have supported him against the journalists who say he groped them.