Marina Ovsyannikova appears in court over live on-air anti-war protest

By Brendan Cole


Newsweek (15.03.2022) – – An editor who stormed a live news broadcast on Russia’s state-run TV channel has been been charged with “organizing an unauthorized public event,” fined 30,000 roubles ($280) and released, the BBC has reported. Marina Ovsyannikova had pleaded not guilty to the charge.


Earlier she had been pictured on social media at a courthouse in Moscow after her whereabouts were unknown for several hours.


A clip went viral of Ovsyannikova, a staff member at Channel One, who appeared during a broadcast on Monday with an anti-war sign that said “here they lie to you” in a striking display of opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


Russian lawyers had told the BBC that she had not been contactable amid concerns that she could face serious charges. It came only days after Russia’s parliament passed legislation banning the spread of “fake” news and news “discrediting” the military. Convictions under these laws can carry jail terms of up to 15 years.

An image of Ovsyannikova next to lawyer Anton Gashinsky was shared on Twitter by news outlet Meduza on Tuesday, which said she had appeared in court in Moscow.


During her protest on Monday night, her placard which said “don’t believe the propaganda” could be seen for several seconds before the the program cut away to a pre-recorded report.


It is forbidden to use the word “war” or “invasion” in reference to the attack on Ukraine in domestic Russian media and Ovsyannikova’s actions on the widely watched state news outlet caused shockwaves internationally.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised her while French President Emmanuel Macron said France would try to offer her protection, either at its embassy or through asylum.


Before Monday’s incident, Ovsyannikova recorded a video in which she called events in Ukraine a “crime” and said she was “ashamed that I allowed myself to tell lies from the television screen,” referring to her job working for a state broadcaster.


Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), praised Ovsyannikova’s action and said that with the clampdown on independent media outlets, social networks of Russian governmental organizations were now what Russians used to find out about the truth of the war in Ukraine.


“The consciences anesthetized or hypnotized by Putin’s ideology in Russia must be awakened from their artificial sleep or their torpor and revitalized,” Fautré told Newsweek.


“This can be done and this can lead, even individually, to heroic acts. The best example is provided by Marina Ovsyannikova,” he said.


Photo credits: Getty Image