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Russian sports channel suspends presenter for supporting tennis player Kasatkina after her coming-out

Russian sports channel Match TV has suspended its presenter and PR agent Sofya Tartakova. Earlier, she supported tennis player Daria Kasatkina, who had come out as gay, and refused to participate in a talk show conceived as a smear campaign against Kasatkina. Alexander Tashchin, Match TV's general producer announced and justified this decision.

“Public statements like the one made today violate the standards of corporate and journalist ethics. My colleagues and I are frank with each other in personal conversations and correspondence; we may have different opinions of particular products made by the channel, but expressing them to the general public in such a manner is unacceptable,” wrote Tashchin. He also said that Tartakova would not “appear on air” until she “has had enough time to reconsider her statements”.

Before that, Tartakova shared she'd refused to participate in the episode of Yest Tema [“There's a Topic to Discuss”] that was dedicated to Daria Kasatkina and Andrey Rublev’s interview. According to her, the talk show participants spent an hour badmouthing the two players. The journalist referred to the program as a “freak show for tongue-tied public officials, pseudo-experts, and those greedy for their five minutes in the limelight”.

“Most importantly, Andrey and Daria. I love you very much. I’m proud of you. You're the kindest, the most open and honest people. Working with you is a real blessing. I’m sorry I haven't been able to protect you. I feel so ashamed and upset that they tried to hurt you. But I’m always on your side,” she added.

On July 18 (coinciding with the interview in which Kasatkina comes out as gay and shares she's dating a girl), Russian parliamentarians proposed a bill prohibiting the “propaganda of homosexual relationships and the negation of family values”. The bill is available in State Duma’s digital database. For the moment, it is only forbidden to spread the “propaganda of homosexuality” among minors.

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