Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson addressed the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and he came down firmly on Weinstein's side. While addressing students in Moscow, Dmitry Peskov referred to Weinsten's accusers as "prostitutes," accused them of lacking "honor and dignity," and criticized them for not reporting their experiences to the police earlier.
"What do you call a woman who slept with a man for $10 million?" Peskov said. "She's called a prostitute."
Over 80 women have accused Weinstein, who for decades was one of the most powerful people in Hollywood, of sexually harassing or assaulting them, according to the Los Angeles Times. Weinstein's spokesperson has said that he denies all allegations of non-consensual sex. He issued an apology letter after the first wave of accusations, however, writing, "The way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it."
Peskov's remarks were originally reported by the Echo of Moscow, according to Yahoo News. He suggested that actresses didn't come forward with their accusations against Weinstein at the time because they instead wanted to make millions of dollars in the film industry.
"They earned hundreds of millions of dollars and 10 years later, they say that Weinstein is to blame," Peskov reportedly said. "Maybe he is a bastard but, none of them went to the police! No, they wanted to earn $10 million." According to Yahoo News, he added that Weinsten's accusers "did a lot that is not compatible with the concept of honor and dignity."
Peskov made the comments while addressing allegations made against Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the State Duma, Russia's lower chamber of congress.
Several female journalists have accused Slutsky of sexually assaulting them. Slutsky denies the allegations and has threatened to sue his accusers for defamation, according to the Guardian. When he was cleared of wrongdoing by a congressional ethics committee, over 20 media outlets announced that they won't cover events in the State Duma anymore.
In his comments Thursday, Peskov defended Slutsky and questioned why his accusers "put up with" his behavior, according to Yahoo News.
"If Slutsky attacked a poor journalist, where was she, why did she put up with it?" Peskov said. "If he felt you up, if he harassed you, why were you silent? ... Why did so much time pass and then you go to the ethics commission? This just amazed me."
According to Newsweek, Peskov then transitioned from talking about Slutsky to addressing the Weinstein allegations.
“You know, this reminds of the Hollywood stars, who became stars, who did a lot that is not becoming of the idea of honor and dignity," Peskov said. "But they did this in order to become stars."
Weinstein rose to prominence as the producer behind Pulp Fiction, Flirting With Disaster, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape, as well as several other hit independent films from the 1990s. He won an Academy Award for Shakespeare in Love, and went on to produce several other blockbusters throughout the 2000s.
In October, the New York Times published a bombshell article reporting that several women had accused Weinstein of inappropriate sexual advances throughout his career. The list of accusers steadily grew, and the New Yorker later reported that three women had accused Weinstein of raping them. Weinstein's spokesperson has said that "any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein," and that "there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances." He was eventually forced out of his production company.
The episode both demolished Weinstein's career and led to an avalanche of similar accusations against other powerful men in the media — over 70, in fact, several of whom have had upcoming films, television series. or book deals canceled as a result of the allegations. The outpouring of sexual assault allegations that followed the Times original report has been dubbed "The Weinstein Effect" by some.
Putin himself has not addressed the allegations against Weinstein.