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Ukraine crisis: Russian pro-Kremlin politician Vladimir Zhironovsky filmed ordering aides to ‘violently rape’ pregnant journalist Stella Dubovitskaya

Right-wing party leader also called reporters ‘lesbians’ and ‘nymphomaniacs’ in abusive rant during press conference

A senior Russian politician has apparently been filmed ordering two male aides to “violently rape” a pregnant journalist during a press conference inside the state Duma.

In an incident described as a “disgrace to the Russian parliament”, the pro-Kremlin leader of the populist nationalist Liberal Democratic party embarked on an abusive misogynist and homophobic rant after being asked a seemingly innocuous question regarding the crisis in Ukraine.

Vladimir Zhironovsky now faces sanctions from the Duma’s ethics commission, including a possible three-month ban from public speaking, as well as legal action from the reporter’s employer, Russia Today.

As TV cameras and other journalists watched, Mr Zhironovsky was asked by Stella Dubovitskaya if he felt there should be a diplomatic response to Ukraine banning the entry of Russian men.

According to a translation by Russia Today, the 67-year-old politician responded by saying that politicians in Ukraine were “nymphomaniacs” – using the outdated derogatory phrase “uterine frenzy”.

He then suggested that the reporter was likely to also be a “nymphomaniac” – and when told to stop being aggressive towards a six-month pregnant woman said: “This is no place for you if you're pregnant… We need healthy people. Pregnant women should not show up at work. Sit at home and look after your child, got that?”

Apparently thinking he was proving his point, Mr Zhironovsky then shoved two male aides towards Ms Dubovitskaya and said: “When I say, you run to her and violently rape her.”

When one of the men started to touch Ms Dubovitskaya, other journalists tried to intervene. Yulia Chuchalova, reporting for the news agency Interfax, told the politician his actions were “derogatory” and “humiliating”, to which he responded: “What are you doing intervening here, you lesbian? Get out of here.”

Mr Zhironovsky, who is well-known in Russia for his exaggerated public outbursts, last night issued an apology to Ms Dubovitskaya in a live TV interview. He said he had spoken “a bit rudely” and said he was sorry if he “happened to offend someone”.

The Duma’s lower house speaker Sergey Naryshkin told the Interfax agency that he condemned Mr Zhironovsky’s behaviour and that he has asked the ethics commission to report on the incident.

Russia Today’s director Margareta Simonyan said the agency had “decided to use all legal options to punish Mr Zhirinovsky as severely as possible”.

The Liberal Democratic leader was described as one of Russia’s “veteran” politicians, who career in public affairs dates back to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

His comments during the incident on Friday came before Ukraine’s Easter truce, drawn up with the help of Russia, the US and the EU, was shattered by the latest fatal assault in a village near Slovyansk.