A Russian audience member of the Australian panel show Q+A was kicked out of the studio for asking a “rogue question” and attempting to explain why he supports President Vladimir Putin.
The show brings in a panel and an audience to debate the “hot issues” in the news each week.
However, this week, audience member Sasha Gillies-Lekakis was scolded and kicked out of the studio by host Stan Grant for his position.
“As someone who comes from the Russian community here in Australia, I’ve been pretty outraged by the narrative created by our media depicting the Ukraine as the good guy and Russia as the bad guy,” Gillies-Lekakis said.
Gillies-Lekakis added, “believe it or not, there are a lot of Russians here and around the world that support what Putin is doing in the Ukraine, myself included.”
The young man then attempted to explain his position, “since 2014, the Ukrainian government, together with Nazi groups like the Azov battalion, have besieged the Russian populations in the Donbas, killing an estimated 13,000 people, according to the United Nations.”
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As he spoke, someone in the studio shouted, “that’s a lie,” and urged the production team to cut his microphone.
The panel briefly discussed Gillies-Lekakis’s concerns, but quickly brushed it aside and moved on to another topic.
A bit later in the show, Grant went back and addressed Gillies-Lekakis.
“Something has been bothering me; I have to admit, since we had Sasha’s question earlier about Russia, and it’s been playing on my mind,” Grant said. “Sasha, people here have been talking about family who are suffering and people who are dying.”
Grant did not address the man’s concerns about Donbas, instead accusing him of supporting people dying and asking him to leave the studio.
“You supported what’s happening, hearing that people are dying. Can I just say — I’m just not comfortable with you being here. Could you please leave?” Grant said.
Gillies-Lekakis tried to respond, but Grant did not let him speak and accused him of advocating violence.
“You can ask a question, but we cannot advocate violence. I should have asked you to leave then. It’s been playing on my mind and, I’m sorry, but I have to ask you to leave,” Grant said.
The host continued, “I wanted to have a proper conversation about these things, but I have to ask you to leave. I’m really sorry. I’m sorry for that. But these things happen. It’s live television.”
Grant explained to the audience that the “rogue” question from Gillies-Lekakis was not vetted before he was permitted to speak on the show.
“Again, apologies for the disruption earlier — it’s not a good thing to have to exclude people from debate,” Grant claimed. “We come here in good faith to have open conversation, rigorous conversation. We’ve heard different points of view, and we encourage different points of view here. But we can’t have anyone who is sanctioning, supporting, violence, and killing of people.”
He added, “so I’m sorry for the disruption. It was not a vetted question. It was a question that was, you know, a rogue question, if you like. It’s not good to exclude people, but we have to take those steps from time to time.”