RT presenter Anton Krasovsky taken off air after calling for Ukrainian children to be drowned
The Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT has suspended a top presenter after he said that Ukrainian children who criticised Russia should be drowned.
Margarita Simonyan, the channel's editor-in-chief, said Anton Krasovsky's comments were "disgusting", in a rare rebuke of one of the station's propagandists.
"Anton Krasovsky's statement is wild and disgusting," said Ms Simonyan. "It is hard to believe that Krasovsky sincerely believed that children should be drowned."
Mr Krasovsky had mimicked how he would grab Ukrainian children by the scruff of their necks and drown them in a river during his chat show on Sunday morning.
"Just drown those children, drown them in the Tysa," the 47-year-old presenter said. "You throw them in the river with a strong undercurrent."
Mr Krasovsky later said he was "really embarrassed" on Telegram.
"Well, it happens: you're on air, you get carried away. And you can't stop. I ask for the forgiveness of everyone who was stunned by this," he said.
Ukrainian government officials called for a global ban on RT following Mr Krasovsky's comments. RT is already banned in the EU and Britain as a Kremlin disinformation programme.
"This is what you side with if you allow RT to operate in your countries. Aggressive genocide incitement," said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister.
Even within the Kremlin’s pool of hardcore propagandists, Mr Krasovsky is considered extreme. Staunchly pro-war and anti-Ukrainian, he has been videoed celebrating the deaths of Ukrainian civilians in a Russian missile strike.
Vladimir Putin has relied heavily on his control of Russian TV to deflect any criticism of his war and to push home his message that Ukraine is full of nazis who poses an existential threat to Russia.
Despite Mr Krasovsky's sacking, the hardcore Russian propaganda campaign continued. On a different Russian talk show over the weekend, participants said that Ukrainians were "mentally ill" and will only be cured once Russia wins its war.