aleph with lawyer 1 298.
(photo credit: Channel 2)
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday avoided commenting on remarks he was widely reported to have made about rape allegations against the Israeli president, but he suggested the president's accusers were seeking to punish him and others for their handling of the Lebanon war.
During his annual televised question-and-answer session Wednesday, Putin was asked about his Kremlin exchange with Olmert and about sexual harassment.
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"Violence ... against women, men and especially against children is always a criminal offense, a grave crime," Putin said. "It is of course absolutely inadmissible to use one's authority in order to coerce a woman into, I beg your pardon, sexual relations."
"As far as the Israeli case is concerned, it is a particular case - 10 women there have announced that they had been raped by the president and recently the prime minister has faced corruption accusations," the Russian leader said.
Putin suggested the accusations against the president, as well as corruption allegations against Olmert, were made by people who were seeking to punish them for their handling of the summer war with Hezbollah guerrillas, which failed to deal a decisive blow to the militants.
"In my view - and many experts would agree with me on this - it is connected with the fact that a significant part of the Israeli society is not satisfied with the actions of its leadership in the Lebanon conflict," he said.
"They regard the events that took place as defeat and immediately there began attacks against the president, the prime minister and the military chief of staff."
Earlier this month, Israeli police recommended indicting Israeli President Moshe Katsav on charges of raping two women, as well as separate cases of aggravated sexual assault and misconduct - all involving women who once worked for him.
Last week, Putin hosted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the Kremlin and reporters overheard him tell his guest: "Say hello to your president. He really surprised us." The microphones were then cut off, but a member of the Israeli delegation told The Associated Press that Putin went on to say of Katsav: "I met him. He didn't look like a guy who could be with 10 women."
A Kremlin spokesman later said that Putin's meaning had been lost in translation from Russian to English.
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