Russian Opposition Media Editor Quits Amid Wave of Harassment Claims

Sergei Prostakov was among several high-ranking media and banking executives to face claims of sexual assault, harassment and rape posted on Twitter by former employees and interns this week.

“I apologize to my readers, colleagues, friends and everyone I let down,” Prostakov wrote in his social media post announcing he was stepping down as the opposition news website’s chief editor.

Prostakov’s ex-girlfriend, who accused him of rape, catalyzed the slew of Twitter threads alleging sexual harassment by men in media and other industries. Several other users accused Prostakov of groping and harassing them at work meetings and parties.

At least one post alleged that Prostakov and MBKh Media’s photo editor were in involved in a gang rape at a party about five years ago.

The photo editor apologized for his past behavior but characterized the alleged gang rape as “group sex by mutual consent.” Prostakov said he had no recollection of that night, saying he was under the influence of alcohol.

The editor-in-chief of the MBKh Media news website announced his resignation Monday amid the latest spate of sexual harassment allegations to hit Russia’s independent media sector.

MBKh Media has not yet addressed the allegations.

The claims are the latest in a string of harassment allegations at some of Russia’s main liberal media outlets in recent years. In 2018, the Meduza news website’s chief editor briefly resigned following claims of groping a colleague’s wife at a party. This year, the longtime chief editor of the Ekho Moskvy radio station faced accusations of making unwanted advancements — claims he apologized for but denied wrongdoing.

All three of the outlets were instrumental in a 2018 campaign to boycott State Duma lawmaker Leonid Slutsky, who was accused of sexually harassing at least five female journalists. A parliamentary ethics commission dismissed the claims and Slutsky continues to serve in Russian parliament.

Bike Lanes to Encircle Central Moscow in ‘New Habits’ Campaign

Transportation authorities plan to install bike lanes along the roadway that encircles central Moscow, deputy mayor Maxim Liksutov said Monday as the Russian capital looks to use the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to drastically reshape its transportation system.

The Mayor’s Office announced plans last month to “help residents form new habits” like walking and cycling to ease crowding on public transport and reduce Moscow’s notorious traffic congestion. The efforts echo pedestrianization efforts seen in major world cities like Paris, Milan, Sydney, Dublin, Athens and more as the coronavirus has emptied streets of traffic and forced social distancing.

“In the future, we plan to place a bike lane along the entire length of the Garden Ring and install bicycle traffic lights there,” Liksutov said in a social media post detailing the placement of new bike lanes across Moscow.

The deputy mayor and transportation chief did not provide a timeframe for the Garden Ring bike lane.

Some of the cyclist-friendly proposals are subject to public discussions and votes, Liksutov said. Others will go into effect as soon as this month and later in 2020.

The Moscow Mayor’s Office said its reconstruction and beautification efforts have doubled pedestrian spaces and led to a tenfold increase in spaces for cyclists since 2015.

Moscow currently boasts 850 kilometers of bike and public transportation lanes, as well as 550 bike rental stations and 2,700 docking spots.

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