A Russian TV news editor who protested Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by interrupting a live news broadcast on Russian state television earlier in March has been charged with “discrediting” the armed forces.
Moscow’s Ostankino district court said on March 25 that it will examine the case against Marina Ovsyannikova on April 14, adding that the woman may face a fine of up to 50,000 rubles (more than $500) if found guilty.
Ovsyannikova appeared suddenly on March 14 behind the host of the Vremya news program on Russia’s Channel One holding a poster reading “NO WAR” in English and “Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you” in Russian. The bottom line of the poster said “Russians against war” in English. She also shouted in Russian “Stop the war. No to war.”
She could be seen and heard for several seconds before the channel switched to a different report.
Ovsyannikova could face harsher repercussions for her actions as a new law adopted and enforced in early March makes the distribution of “false information about Russian armed forces” punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
On March 14, the Ostankino district court found Ovsyannikova guilty of attempting to organize an unsanctioned protest and ordered her to pay a fine of 30,000 rubles (more than $300).
That fine was not for her protest action in the television studio but for a video statement she recorded online before she entered the studio with the poster.
In the video statement, Ovsyannikova condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called on Russian citizens to stage rallies against the ongoing war.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called her protest “hooliganism” and Channel One’s media manager, Kirill Kleimenov, called her “a traitor,” but Ovsyannikova has been hailed elsewhere for her protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ovsyannikova’s protest took place nearly three weeks into the war, which began when Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in what the Russian president called a special military operation.
State TV is the main source of news for many millions of Russians and closely follows the Kremlin line that Russia was forced to act to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine and to defend Russian-speakers there against “genocide.”
Ukraine and most countries have condemned Russia’s invasion of a democratic country and said its pretexts were false. They have imposed massive sanctions in response.