15 March 2022

Russian state TV employee fined for anti-war protest on live news show

15 March 2022

A Russian state television employee who interrupted a live news programme by protesting against the war with Ukraine has been ordered to pay a fine by a court.

Marina Ovsyannikova, an employee of Russia’s state-run Channel One, walked into the studio during Monday’s evening news show with a poster saying “no war” and “Russians against the war”.

In a video recorded before her action, she said her father is Ukrainian and her mother is Russian.

An independent human rights group that monitors political arrests identified the woman as Marina Ovsyannikova (Screengrab/OVD-Info)

She added that “Russia is the aggressor country and one person, Vladimir Putin, solely bears responsibility for that aggression” and urged Russians to join anti-war protests.

Ms Ovsyannikova spent the night in police custody and on Tuesday Moscow’s Ostankino District Court ordered her to pay a fine of 30,000 rubles (about £200) on charges of organising unsanctioned actions, over her call to take part in demonstrations against the war.

The Investigative Committee, Russia’s top state investigative agency, is also investigating Ms Ovsyanikova on charges of publicly spreading false information about the Russian military — new punitive legislation adopted a day after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

If convicted of that charge, she could face up to 15 years in prison.

Speaking in a video address early on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised Ms Ovsyannikova for her courage.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described her move as “hooliganism”, noting that interference with a live broadcast is a serious offence.

The Russian government has made a sweeping effort to cut independent sources of information about the war, imposing blocks on the BBC Russian service, the US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvia-based website Meduza.

Russia has also blocked Twitter and Facebook and outlawed Instagram as an “extremist”.

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