Russian TV journalist detained over criticism of Ukraine war

August 11, 2022 6:12 am

Marina Ovsyannikova, a former editor at the Russian state broadcaster Channel One, has been detained. [Source: Aljazeera]

TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who made international news over a live-on-air anti-war protest in March, has been detained.

Russian authorities raided the home of a former state TV journalist and detained her as part of a criminal investigation for allegedly spreading false information about the Russian armed forces, her lawyer said on social media.

Marina Ovsyannikova, 44, who quit her job on Russian television in March after making an on-air protest against Moscow’s war in Ukraine, was detained on Wednesday, her lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov said.

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The case against the TV journalist was launched under a law that penalises statements critical of the Russian military and a conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

In March, Ovsyannikova, then an editor at Russia’s Channel One television, barged onto the set of its flagship Vremya (Time) evening news programme, holding a poster that read, “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.”

She was later charged with disparaging the Russian military and fined 30,000 rubles ($270 at the time). After quitting her job, Ovsyannikova became somewhat of an activist, staging anti-war pickets and speaking out publicly against the conflict.

Criticism of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops to invade Ukraine in February has been outlawed in Russia, and her on-air protest made headlines around the world.

The arrest on Wednesday is likely linked to a protest Ovsyannikova staged last month when she held a banner that said, “Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists,” her lawyer told the independent news site Meduza.

Writing on the Telegram messaging app earlier in the day, Ovsyannikova said that 10 Russian law enforcement officers raided her home at 6:00 am (03:00 GMT).