Fears for TV protest ‘hero’ as she ‘goes missing’ after being detained by Russian police with amid pro-Putin call for her to face ‘treason’ charge and ten years jail while world applauds brave stunt
- A Russian woman ran onto live state TV news with a sign protesting Ukraine war
- Marina Ovsyannikova, 43, is an editor on the Kremlin-controlled Channel One
- The brave editor held a sign that said: ‘Stop the war! Don’t believe propaganda!’
- She was arrested by police after her actions at the studios in Ostankino, Moscow
- But is now being held in an undisclosed location with no access to legal counsel
- Supports of Putin have called for Ovsyannikova to be jailed for ten years
- But a new law introduced by the Kremlin to punish ‘public dissemination of false information’ about Russia’s armed forces could see her locked up for 15 years
Heroic protestor Marina Ovsyannikova, who yesterday interrupted Russia’s most-watched news show live on air to denounce the war in Ukraine, has disappeared since being detained and has no access to legal representation.
Ovsyannikova, 43, was arrested yesterday shortly after her brave stunt, but her lawyers said they have no idea where she is being held and have not been allowed to see her.
Russian authorities are now preparing a criminal case against the dissident television editor, which could see her jailed for up to 15 years after the Kremlin ushered in a new law in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine to punish ‘public dissemination of false information.’
Supporters of Putin are also calling for Ovsyannikova’s imprisonment, with the director of broadcasting at RT imploring Russian authorities to jail the protestor for a decade.
Anton Krasovsky said: ‘My boss Margarita [Simonyan] once said ”we fire for treason and theft”. I’ll correct that – we’ll put you in jail for treason and theft.
‘The bi*** should be jailed for ten years.’
In an exceptional show of bravery yesterday, Ovsyannikova burst onto the set of Channel One – the Kremlin’s leading news channel which has 250 million viewers worldwide – and interrupted famous newsreader Ekaterina Andreeva in protest against the war in Ukraine.
Her status as a senior television editor at the station meant she was able to get access to the broadcasting centre, and was not stopped by armed guards.
Her audacious stunt, in which she told viewers: ‘Stop the War! Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here!’ on a channel that in recent weeks has spewed anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western rhetoric, went viral and has been viewed millions of times.
Heroic protestor Marina Ovsyannikova, who yesterday interrupted Russia’s most-watched news show live on air to denounce the war in Ukraine, has disappeared since being detained and has no access to legal representation
Ovsyannikova, 43, was arrested yesterday following her brave stunt (pictured behind broadcaster Ekaterina Andreeva), but her lawyers have now announced that they have no idea where she is being held and that they have not been allowed to see her
Russian authorities are now preparing a criminal case against the dissident television editor, which could see her jailed for up to 15 years after the Kremlin ushered in a new law in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine to punish ‘public dissemination of false information’
Her status as a senior television editor at the station meant she was able to get access to the broadcasting centre, and was not stopped by armed guards
Ovsyannikova was arrested shortly after her stunt, which represents arguably the most graphic protest so far against Putin’s war in Russia at a time when almost all opposition media outlets have been closed.
One of her lawyers Danill Berman said he expected her to be held initially for 15 days on an administrative charge, and then face arrest on a criminal accusation with a more serious custodial sentence likely.
But there are now concerns that the television editor will be held against her will indefinitely in a secret location by Putin’s cronies while authorities prepare a case against her.
Ovsyannikova was initially held for three hours in the duty room at the channel’s Ostankino television centre headquarters in Moscow, according to Berman, who said ‘they want to scare her a lot.’
But another of Ovsyannikova’s lawyers, Pavel Chikov, said today: ‘Marina’s whereabouts have still not been established yet. She has been detained for more than 12 hours.’
Women’s rights activist Alena Popova said: ‘Where is Marina Ovsyannikova?
‘Her whereabouts now are unknown. The lawyer wasn’t allowed to her.
‘Remembering torture and violence in Brateyevo police station, I am very worried for Marina. According to the law, she can not be arrested because she has two small children.’
Olga Taranova, a former intern at the channel, went on to explain how Ovsyannikova managed to interrupt the broadcast: ‘A policeman on duty is always by the presenter.
‘But during the broadcast, when there are reports from places, senior editors and makeup artists often come to the presenter.
‘There is almost no one more senior and trusted than Marina.
‘When I was an intern, Marina already was a respected writer for the evening news.’
RT head Margarita Simonyan – seen as the leading TV propagandist for Putin, nicknamed ‘Goebbels in a skirt’ by the Ukrainians – said of the incident on a separate channel: ‘This can happen with every editorial office.
‘We, editorial offices, do not have outdoor surveillance for our employees, do not bug their phones, and in general are not paramilitary organisations with regular lie detector checks, etc.
‘Marina Ovsyannikova is indeed the ex-wife of one of our directors.
‘They have been divorced for a long time and live different lives. Quite different, as it turns out.’
There are now concerns that the television editor will be held against her will indefinitely in a secret location by Putin’s cronies while authorities prepare a case against her
Another of Ovsyannikova’s lawyers, Pavel Chikov, said this morning: ‘Marina’s whereabouts have still not been established yet. She has been detained for more than 12 hours’
Ovsyannikova herself recorded a video prior to her arrest to explain why she decided to protest. The television editor has a Ukrainian father and said before her actions on Monday that she was ashamed to be peddling the Kremlin’s lies
Ovsyannikova herself recorded a video prior to her arrest to explain why she decided to protest.
The television editor has a Ukrainian father and said before her actions on Monday that she was ashamed to be peddling the Kremlin’s lies.
‘What’s happening in Ukraine is a crime and Russia is the aggressor. The responsibility for this aggression lies with one man: Vladimir Putin.
‘My father is Ukrainian, my mother is Russian and they were never enemies.
‘Unfortunately, for the last few years I’ve been working for Channel One. I’ve been doing Kremlin propaganda and I’m very ashamed of it – that I let people lie from TV screens and allowed the Russian people to be zombified.
‘We didn’t say anything in 2014 when it only just began. We didn’t protest when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny. We just silently watched this inhuman regime.
‘Now the whole world has turned away from us, and ten generations of our descendants won’t wash off this fratricidal war.’
Ovsyannikova’s protest has received international support, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky personally praised her show of defiance.
‘I am grateful to those Russians who do not stop trying to convey the truth. To those who fight disinformation and tell the truth, real facts to their friends and loved ones,. And I am personally grateful to the woman who entered the studio of Channel One with a poster against the war,’ Zelensky said in a Telegram video.
‘To those who are not afraid to protest – as long as your country has not completely closed itself off from the whole world, turning into a very large North Korea, you must fight. You must not lose your chance.’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has praised the Russian TV editor who ran onto a live state TV news with a sign protesting Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in a Telegram video (pictured) Tuesday. He personally thanked the editor for her bravery and said he was ‘grateful’ to all Russians who ‘are not afraid to protest’ and ‘tell the truth’ about the invasion of Ukraine
Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose editor-in-chief is Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov, posted a screenshot of the incident but blurred Ovsyannikova’s anti-war message, possibly for fear of reprisal
Ovsyannikova was arrested by police working for the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The reason for her arrest was put down to ‘public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in order to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintain international peace and security,’ the TASS news agency reported.
After the incident Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose editor-in-chief is Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov, posted a screenshot of the moment Ovsyannikova went on air but blurred her anti-war message, possibly for fear of reprisal.
On March 4 Putin signed a law that effectively criminalizes public opposition to or non-state news coverage of the conflict.
It was seen as another way for the Kremlin to curb widespread dissent over the war and cope with crippling Western sanctions.
If Ovsyannikova is prosecuted under the law she could face three to 15 years in prison. Russian human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov’s legal defence foundation is helping her face the charges of ‘discrediting the Russian armed forces’.
While there have been protests against the war all over the West, the Kremlin has cracked down on any Russians opposing the war.
Even so, thousands of protesters have demonstrated in Moscow and commentators have tried to quell claims the war is anything other than a large-scale Russian invasion.
Last week, guests on one of the country’s most-popular state TV broadcasts risked the wrath of Vladimir Putin to denounce the invasion as ‘worse’ than the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which helped bring down the Soviet Union.
Karen Shakhnazarov (pictured) sought to bust the Kremlin’s narrative that the war with Ukraine was a limited exercise
Semyon Bagdasarov (pictured), called for an end to the war, citing his fear it could become a humanitarian disaster and comparing it to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which helped bring down the USSR
Semyond Bagdasarov, an academic, used an appearance on Russia 1’s prime time talk show ‘An Evening with Vladimir Soloviev’ – a man referred to as Putin’s propagandist-in-chief – to call on the Russian president to end the attack, while warning allies like China and India could soon turn their backs on Moscow.
‘Do we need to get into another Afghanistan, but even worse? There are more people and they’re more advanced in their weapon handling’, he said, ‘We don’t need that. Enough already.’
He then added: ‘If this picture starts to transform into an absolute humanitarian disaster, even our close allies like China and India will be forced to distance themselves from us. ‘This public opinion, with which they’re saturating the entire world, can play out badly for us… Ending this operation will stabilise things within the country.’
Karen Shakhnazarov, a filmmaker and state pundit, also sought to bust the Kremlin’s narrative that it is conducting a limited ‘special operation’ in the Donbass region by referencing attacks on the capital of Kyiv – which is located hundreds of miles away.
‘I have a hard time imagining taking cities such as Kyiv. I can’t imagine how that would look,’ he said, even as Putin’s troops close in on the capital and launch attacks into the outskirts.
Ovsyannikova’s arrest in the wake of her protest came as another experiment, designed to show how quickly the authorities in Russia are clamping down on free speech amid the war in Ukraine, was also caught on camera.
Footage emerged yesterday of a horde of policemen descending upon a young woman in Manezhnaya Square in Moscow and dragging her away just three seconds after she held up a small paper sign.
The sign itself bore no message in support of Ukraine or any other issue in defiance of the Kremlin and the will of Vladimir Putin.
Instead, the sign simply read ‘TWO WORDS’ – but even this was enough to trigger a stampede of policemen clad in full riot gear who removed her from view in the blink of an eye.
It comes as the Kremlin introduced a blanket ban on social media over the past week, throttling Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – as well as Western media and independent news sites – as it scrambles to control the narrative around its incursion into Ukraine.
Footage has emerged of a horde of policemen descending upon a young woman in Manezhnaya Square in Moscow and dragging her away just three seconds after she held up a small paper sign
The woman declared: ‘I am just going to say ”two words”, before adding with a knowing smirk: ‘Will they arrest me for this now or not?’ as she raised her tiny placard. The sign reads ‘TWO WORDS’
Her placard had been in the air for a split second before a team of riot police steamed onto the scene, grabbed the woman by the arms and hauled her away in front of the stunned cameraman
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