Stan Grant Kicked A Pro-Putin Audience Member Off ‘Q&A’ Last Night

"You can ask a question, but you cannot advocate violence."

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Viewers of the ABC’s panel show Q&A were in for a surprise last night when host Stan Grant ejected a member of the audience from the studio.

“As someone who comes from the Russian community here in Australia, I’ve been pretty outraged by the narrative created by our media depicting Ukraine as ‘the good guy’ and Russia as ‘the bad guy’,” audience member Sasha Gilles-Lekakis put to the panel, which included Dennis Richardson, Olga Boichak and Jason Falinski.

“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,” they continued. “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.”An audience member was heard responding: “That’s a lie.”

He finished: “My question is, you know, where was your outpouring of grief and concern for those thousands of mostly Russians?” At which point the same audience member can be heard saying “Don’t do this, it’s propaganda.”

Q&A host Stan Grant responded by quickly clarifying the figures that were cited. “When you mention the 13, 000… The United Nations has listed 13,000 total people killed since the conflict, but you’re trying to suggest that is Russians killed by Ukrainians,” he said. “The United Nations has pointed out there is 13,000 killed since the conflict began in 2014. So we need to be very clear on that.”

After a brief discussion about the conflict, the panel moved on to other questions, before Grant returned to once again address Gilles-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,” he said. “Sasha, people here have been talking about family who are suffering and people who are dying. 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?”

Gilles-Lekakis seemed to want to say some final words, but Grant interjected. “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 then apologised to the audience for the disruption.

“It was not a vetted question,” Grant clarified. “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.”

The ABC has thrown their unqualified support behind Grant’s decision. “As the program developed, Stan Grant, a highly experienced presenter of live TV, was aware that other audience members were distressed,” a spokesperson said, as per The Guardian. “After careful consideration he decided the best course of action was for Mr Gillies-Lekakis to leave the studio, which was live-to-air. The ABC fully supports his judgment and handling of this situation.”

Watch Stan Grant eject Gilles-Lekakis from the audience below.