On Thursday evening’s episode of Q&A an audience member was told to leave by Stan Grant the show’s host. Sasha Gillies-Lekakis asked a question about the Ukraine/Russia conflict, identifying himself as having Russian heritage and as a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gillies-Lekakis has now published a response to the ep on social media.

To quickly recap — when Gillies-Lekakis’ asked his question on Thursday night, it was met with obvious disapproval by Grant and the other panellists.

Approximately 20 minutes after letting Gillies-Lekakis finish posing his question, Grant asked him to leave the studio.

“We can’t have anyone who is sanctioning, supporting, violence and killing of people. So I‘m sorry for the disruption,” Grant said.

“It was not a vetted question. It was a rogue question. It’s not good,” as per The Australian.

On Friday night, the ABC published a statement defending Grant’s decision to ask the questioner to leave.

“Sasha Gillies-Lekakis did not ask the question that he had agreed,” the statement said.

“What he said instead contained major inaccuracies. He was asked to finish his question and the issue was aired in the panel discussion.

“The ABC fully supports his judgment and handling of this situation.”

In response Gillies-Lekakis shared a social media post which was republished by Sydney Morning Herald:

“I submitted my question to the QandA team via their online submission portal, was told to edit my question via email, and then once again in the studio, shortly before the program began,” the Q&A questioner wrote.

“The only addition I made to my question when actually delivering it was my reference to the Azov Battalion (seven to eight words roughly), and some sentences were left out towards the end as I was interrupted.

“If this small change to my question amounts to it being ‘rogue’, as was claimed, once again I apologise.

“However, I find this difficult to reconcile with the fact that other guests were given the chance to speak at length, off-script, on the Russia-Ukraine situation.”

“I find Mr Grant’s statements following my departure, and the fact that I was asked to leave the program, disappointing and unprofessional.”

Mr Gillies-Lekakis finished by stating that he was “genuinely sorry that things took the turn they did”.

He also queried “if my question was not appropriate for the show after being vetted and edited, I wonder why I was invited at all”.

This “rogue” element of Gillies-Lekakis’ question was called out live on air by Grant.

The host noted that the 13,000 deaths in Donbas were not exclusively Russians killed at the hands of Ukrainians as Gillies-Lekakis’ question appeared to insinuate.

In a statement published in the Sydney Morning Herald, the ABC alleged that there were clear differences between the question Gillies-Lekakis submitted and that which he asked during the broadcast:

“Since 2014, the Ukraine has besieged the Russian-majority populations in Donbas, in flagrant violation of the Minsk Agreement. The UN estimates 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict,” the national broadcaster wrote.

On air, the relatively neutral question became more heavily aligned to the official Russian position. That is, that the 13,000 dead were Russian and their killers were “the Ukrainian government, together with Nazi groups like the Azov Battalion”.

Gillies-Lekakis is a Spanish and Latin American studies student at the University of Melbourne who spent a semester studying in Cuba as per The Daily Mail.

Image: Twitter @QandA