The manager of Russian lesbian pop duo Tatu allegedly sexually assaulted an undercover reporter - while singer Yulia Volkova watched from a hotel bed.

According to British tabloid NEWS OF THE WORLD, IVAN SHAPOVALOV grabbed reporter HANNAH PERRY by the throat with one hand and intimately fondled her with the other.

Shapovalov allegedly held the 22-year-old with such force that the journalist struggled to breathe.

Perry says, "He was crushing my windpipe. I was in such pain. Then I saw Yulia, just watching.

"I thought he was going to rape me or seriously hurt me. He was that forceful."

The incident is said to have occurred after Perry refused the manager's sexual advances - she had been sent by the newspaper in a media "sting" after reports of the Russian's penchant for under age sex.

Shapovalov has admitted he takes advantage of young girls at auditions, and Perry was chosen to infiltrate Tatu's entourage because she looks a lot younger than her 22 years.

She says, "I had my back to him when he pounced. First I felt a hand on my stomach, then he rammed his hand under the waistband of my trousers.

"I realised it was Shapovalov and pushed him away, but then he grabbed me by the throat with his left hand and squeezed.

"He tried again to push his hand into my trousers, forcing it down towards my underwear and then my private parts. I did all I could to stop him, tugging with all my might."

Tatu was due to play two British concerts this week - both were cancelled due to poor ticket sales.

04/05/2003 15:05