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MOSCOW, March 19 (Itar-Tass) – Editor-in-chief of the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets Pavel Gusev said he would take on lawmaker Andrei Isayev in public debate if the latter apologized to the reporters.
"I will take part in the Poyedinok /Duel/ program without delay only if Andrei Isayev publicly apologizes to the reporters. So far, it's out of the question," Gusev said in an interview to Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Isayev, who is deputy secretary of United Russia's General Council, said he was ready for televised public discussion with Gusev.
"I believe it would make sense for us to meet during /Vladimir/ Solovyov's program "Poyedinok /"Duel"/ and discuss the reciprocal claims," Isayev told Tass. In his view, it would expose their disagreements to the public’s judgment.
The lawmaker underlined he was ready to answer law-enforcement bodies' questions, too. Earlier, Gusev asked the prosecutors to open a criminal case against Islayev over threats against reporters performing their professional duties.
"As for his further actions, it's up to him," Isayev said, "I'm ready to meet with him at law-enforcement bodies, but I believe it would be more reasonable to have an open public discussion."
The conflict between Isayev and Gusev broke out after the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets carried the article titled "Political Prostitution Changes Sex." It told about three female United Russia lawmakers - Irina Yarovaya, Olga Batalina and Yekaterina Lakhova. The article was severely criticized by head of the house committee for labor and social policy Andrei Isayev /United Russia faction/ on Twitter.
For his part, Moskovsky Komsomolets editor-in-chief complained about Isayev to the Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigative Committee.
One of the persons mentioned in the resounding article – first deputy chairperson of the house committee for family, women and children Olga Batalina /United Russia/ – told reporters she would not sue Gusev over the article, as she believed that it "was not original work, but a compilation of several slanderous theses which are found in the blogosphere today."
At the same time, Batalina said such incidents should not be left without response. "The law should be the only measure. If there is a violation, you should answer regardless of your position or status. If you have not breached the law, any prosecution for professional activity is inadmissible, but it a lawmaker, a public figure or a journalist," the parliamentarian underlined.
The parliament intends to demand an apology from Gusev and his expulsion from the Journalists' Union and the Public Chamber, according to a draft statement drawn by the United Russia faction on inadmissibility of abusing freedom of expression by the mass media. The house reviewed the document on Tuesday. It said the article "overstepped all thinkable boundaries of cynicism, partiality and ordinary boorishness."
The insults of State Duma deputies are not merely a challenge to all citizens who voted for them but also a challenge to women lawmakers: mothers and wives, the statement said.
The editor-in-chief should bring a public apology to those whom he has insulted. Furthermore, he cannot be a member of the professional associations of journalists and the Public Chamber.
He cannot lead the Union of Moscow journalists and the Public Chamber commission for communications, information policy and freedom of expression, the statement said.
However, Pavel Gusev believes he has nothing to apologize for to the public because he has not insulted anybody.
"I'm not going to apologize to anybody; because I have not insulted anyone. It's Andrei Isayev who should apologize to journalists. I have nothing to apologize for," Gusev told Tass.