Ukraine war: Journalist who protested on Russian TV detained

Ukraine war: Journalist who protested on Russian TV detained

A Russian journalist who burst on to a live TV news programme to protest against the war in Ukraine has been reported missing overnight.

Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at state-controlled Channel 1, was detained after she ran on to the set on Monday holding an anti-war sign.

The sign, clearly visible for a few seconds, read: “No war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.”

Her whereabouts are now unknown.

Ms Ovsyannikova’s lawyer, Pavel Chikov, posted on Twitter that he was unable find his client.

“Marina Ovsyannikova has not yet been found. She has been imprisoned for more than 12 hours,” he said on Tuesday morning.

He said the initial police investigation “does not provide grounds for detention and imprisonment”.

Police arrested her over a new law that bans calling Russia’s military action in Ukraine an “invasion” or spreading “fake news” about the conflict.

Though the strictest punishments carry a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years, Mr Chikov said Ms Ovsyannikova was likely to be fined 30,000 to 60,000 roubles (£205-£410).

‘Don’t be afraid’

During the protest, which happened live on Russia’s main nightly news programme, Ms Ovsyannikova said, “No to war! Stop the war!” before the programme director cut early to a recorded news report.

Before the incident she recorded a video in which she called events in Ukraine a “crime” and said she was ashamed to work for what she called Kremlin propaganda.

“I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to tell lies from the television screen. Ashamed that I allowed Russians to be turned into zombies,” she explained. “We just silently watched this inhumane regime.”

Ms Ovsyannikova, who said her father was Ukrainian, called on the Russian people to protest against the war, saying that only they could “stop the madness”.

“Don’t be afraid of anything, they can’t imprison all of us,” she said.

From the moment Ms Ovsyannikova’s identity became known, she has received dozens of comments on her Facebook page in Ukrainian, Russian and English, thanking her for her actions.

Ukraine’s President Zelensky also praised her for “telling the truth”.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called her actions an act of hooliganism.

Russian television news has long been controlled by the Kremlin and independent viewpoints are rare on all the major channels.

State-controlled Russian media refer to the war as a “special military operation” and paint Ukraine as the aggressor, describing Ukraine’s elected government as neo-Nazis.

Several of the remaining independent media outlets in Russia have stopped broadcasting or publishing after pressure from the authorities, including the radio station Echo of Moscow, and TV Rain – an online TV channel.

Others, like newspaper Novaya Gazeta, are attempting to report on the situation without falling foul of the new censorship laws.