21 Mar 2018 19:55

Slutsky did not break behavioral norms - Duma ethics commission

MOSCOW. March 21 (Interfax) - The State Duma ethics commission on Wednesday rejected as unfounded and pre-planned the public accusations by several female journalists that they were harassed by Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the Duma foreign affairs committee.

"The commission has found Slutsky not in breach of the behavioral norms," the commission's head, Otari Arshba, told journalists after its Wednesday's discussion of the claims filed by Darya Zhuk (Dozhd) and Farida Rustamova (the BBC Russian-language Service), and of the explanations provided by Slutsky.

"The commission notes that the claimants made their accusations against colleague Slutsky almost simultaneously, during the presidential election period in Russia, and significantly later (from one to three years) after the alleged incidents," the commission said in the resolution.

The "sum" of analyzed facts "attests to the selective, deliberate and planned nature of the claimants' actions," the commission said.

Zhuk and Rustamova attended the commission's closed-door meeting, but made no comment to the press afterwards. The meeting attracted much attention from Russian and foreign media outlets.

Once they left, Slutsky joined the meeting.

The commission made its decision in the absence of all participants in the situation.

The commission also notes in its decision that it lacked a "proper toolkit" to verify this kind of claims, including for conducting necessary analysis (including of the audio recordings) required by the law.

"The commission is not in a position to give expert assessments of the audio recordings and other facts alleged in the claimants' applications," the resolution said.