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Editor of liberal Russian media quits over sexual harassment claims

AFP  |  Moscow 

The of Meduza, one of Russia's top liberal media outlets, resigned on Friday in a rare sexual harassment scandal that caught the publication off and divided its supporters.

"This is the only way to halt the crisis surrounding the editorial team and minimise the reputational damage," the independent website quoted its Ivan and as saying.

His resignation is highly unusual in where the Western #MeToo movement has largely failed to take off and rampant sexual harassment is often seen as a joke rather than a problem.

Controversy first erupted when said this week that 34-year-old would be suspended for two weeks after he was accused of groping an employee's wife at a party in October.

A heavily inebriated pinched the woman's bottom, saying: "You are the only one at this party who I can harass and nothing would happen to me for that," said.

Kolpakov said at the time he did not remember anything but publicly apologised for his "ugly" behaviour. He was however reinstated by the board of directors and the employee whose wife was harassed later quit.

There is no legislation that protects women against sexual harassment at work or home in

The only senior Russian to be publicly accused of harassment, Leonid Slutsky, dismissed allegations earlier this year that he groped journalists and made lewd comments.

A parliamentary ethics panel later cleared his name and Slutsky claimed the scandal had actually "boosted my gravitas".

Meduza, which is based in EU member to circumvent censorship, frequently writes about gender-based violence and harassment.

The site's management however admitted it had no guidelines on how to deal with such offences and found itself in unchartered waters.

When Kolpakov resigned, he said he was only doing so to protect the from the growing controversy.

"I categorically refuse to accept the charges of harassment," he wrote on

"I am leaving because it hurts me to see you destroy what I've built," he said of his critics.

Many liberal Muscovites said that had discredited itself by refusing to sack its immediately after the incident.

Others said the incident had been blown out of proportion.

Mitya Aleshkovsky, a prominent Russian journalist and social activist, said that Kolpakov's actions could be described as "a bad joke, hooliganism (or) unworthy behaviour." "You can call it what you like, but this is not harassment," he said on

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, November 09 2018. 21:55 IST