Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he did not support the global #MeToo movement in which women have publicly denounced their sexual abusers.
“We are seeing a process where certain people, certain organizations which specialize in defending the rights of women, are creating a movement in Western countries, and exposing twenty-, thirty-year old cases,” he told journalists.
“I don’t think we should turn all these questions, especially concrete cases, into some sort of campaign,” said Putin.
“In all civilized countries there is a legal process for handling such conflicts,” he said, pointing to law enforcement authorities and the courts.
“This raises the question: why is this happening now? Why not ten years ago when these events happened?”
Putin spoke in response to a question about a Russian lawmaker who has been accused of making lewd sexual comments and groping, but was cleared of wrongdoing by the parliament’s ethics commission.
In response several of Russia’s top media outlets have boycotted the lawmaker, the head of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, and pulled their journalists from covering the lower house.
Putin said he was unaware of the case and launched into his criticism of the #MeToo movement.
Putin’s administration keeps a tight lid on political dissent and champions traditional values while denouncing the moral decline of the West.
At the end of March, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov called “prostitutes” the actresses who had accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and rape.
The #MeToo has been greeted coldly in Russia, where allegations of sexual harassment are often justified or derided.