Russian talk show host suspended after saying Ukrainian children should be drowned or burned

A Russian talk show host, Anton Krasovsky, apologized on Monday after being suspended by a Russian state broadcaster for suggesting that Ukrainian children be drowned or burned in their homes.

“I apologize to everyone who was stunned by this,” said Krasovsky, 47, broadcasting director of RT, the state-funded television station, which announced its suspension on Sunday evening.

“It was just tasteless,” Krasovsky said in two statements posted on Telegram, calling the comments he made last week “savage and unthinkable.”

RT, which is seen by many as a mouthpiece for the Kremlin and has been criticized for spreading a steady stream of Russian propaganda and disinformation to justify the invasion of Ukraine, suspended Krasovsky from his role as host of the political talk show “Antonyms”.

On a show last week, he joked about sexual assaults and suggested that Ukrainian children who refer to parts of Russian-held Ukraine as “occupied” be killed.

RT editor Margarita Simonya called Krasovsky’s comments “disgusting” in a statement on her Telegram channel on Sunday.

“For now, I’m stopping our collaboration, because neither me nor the rest of the RT team can even afford to think that any of us are capable of sharing such a wild thing.” she wrote, adding that she expected him to “explain what kind of temporary madness” inspired the outburst.

Krasovsky, one of several Russian media outlets under Western sanctions since the start of the war, caught the world’s attention in 2013 when he was fired from a Russian late-night TV show after he to come out as gay on air. After accusing Russian lawmakers of creating a culture of fear for gay people, he managed to reinstall himself at the center of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine and was named RT’s broadcasting director in 2020.

The latest rebuke stems from an interview with Russian fantasy writer Sergei Lukyanenko, who recalled being told by Ukrainian children in the 1980s that their country was occupied by Russians.

“Throw them into the river where the currents are strong,” Krasovsky replied, adding that they should also be thrown into houses and burned alive.

Krasovsky went on to say that Ukraine “shouldn’t even exist” and joked about Russian soldiers receiving praise for raping older Ukrainian women.

His comments sparked a backlash on social media, with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accusing him of inciting genocide.

“Ban RT worldwide,” Kuleba wrote in a Twitter post on Sunday that included a link to the program. “Governments that still haven’t banned RT should watch this clip,” he added.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, Russia’s equivalent of the FBI, said on Monday it was investigating Krasovsky’s “harsh statements”.

Javier E. Swan