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The spokesperson for Russia's Foreign Ministry says women just need to tell sexist men when to back down


Even Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, says State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky once made sexist comments to her, when they first met four years ago at a forum in St. Petersburg, but then he stopped when she confronted him about it. Zakharova described the incident in an appearance on Ekho Moskvy with the station’s chief editor, who was also present for Slutsky’s remarks in St. Petersburg.

Before she shared the anecdote, Zakharova prepared listeners for a “bombshell,” but her story was apparently intended to suggest that the Duma deputy corrects his indecent behavior when asked to stop.

“My experience shows that when you draw a red line — your own line, right here and now — it creates an opportunity to stop certain things and then reach a new level in relations,” Zakharova said.

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 Dozhdproducer Darya Zhuk. BBC reporter Farida Rustamova (one of the women who originally spoke to Dozhd anonymously) then accused Slutsky openly, revealing that she has an audio recording of him harassing her in March 2017.

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. OnInternational Women's Day, Slutsky took the holiday as an opportunity to “apologize” on Facebook, writing, “I’d like to ask the forgiveness of any of you I’ve ever voluntarily or involuntarily caused distress. Believe me, it wasn’t out of malice.”