Russian presidential candidate pickets parliament in harrassment protest

Opposition presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak has conducted a solo picket outside the lower house of the Russian parliament to demand the resignation of a prominent politician whom several female journalists accuse of sexual harassment.

The allegations against Leonid Slutsky, head of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, include sexual groping and making demeaning comments.

Parliament speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has dismissed the complaints, saying journalists who feel unsafe covering the Duma should get other jobs.

Ms Sobchak held her demonstration on Thursday, International Women's Day, which is observed as a public holiday in Russia.

She held a placard reading Deputies We Don't Want You.

Today, noting it was International Women's Day, Mr Slutsky said on Facebook: "I am using the occasion to ask forgiveness from those of you whom I freely or involuntarily caused suffering.

"Believe me, the intent was not malicious."

President Vladimir Putin, with approval ratings of some 80%, is seeking a fourth term in the March 18 election.

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