Marina Ovsyannikova: Russian journalist named bravest woman on television

In an exceptional act of defiance, TV editor Marina Ovsyannikova burst onto the Channel One set during the Vremya news program yesterday – watched by 250 million viewers worldwide – and interrupted famed presenter Ekaterina Andreeva in protest against the war in Ukraine.

As one of the most experienced members of the institution, having worked there for several years in the Directorate of Information Programs, Ovsyannikova was able to bypass the armed guards and run after Andreeva shouting: “Stop the war. No to war. With a sign that reads: “Don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here. While Andreeva, who has hosted Vremya’s newscast for more than two decades, continued to read her script.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently passed a law that prevents the spread of what the Kremlin calls “fake news” about the country’s military. This led to the closure of several Russian independent media and the flight of many journalists from the country. The ultimate penalty is up to 15 years in prison.

Naturally, Ovsyannikova is called the bravest woman on television for her inspiring – and dangerous – stunt. His actions have already been praised by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his speech on Monday evening. He said he was “grateful” to Russians who fight to tell the truth, and was grateful “to the lady who walked into the Channel One studio with an anti-war poster”.

British MPs are now pushing for Ovsyannikova to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and 46,000 users who have flooded her Facebook page with messages of respect and adoration.

The 43-year-old is a mother of two, whose ex-husband is an employee of Russia Today. Prior to her television career, Ovsyannikova was a competitive swimmer who crossed the Volga in Russia and the Bosphorus waterway in Turkey. She received a bachelor’s degree from Kuban State University and a master’s degree from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

Her family upbringing was one of the main reasons for Ovsyannikova’s courageous act of defiance. “My father is Ukrainian, my mother is Russian, and they were never enemies,” she says in a pre-recorded video that was uploaded to her Facebook by human rights group OVD-Info shortly after the broadcast. . Ukraine is a crime and Russia is the aggressor. The responsibility for this aggression rests on the conscience of a single person. That person is Vladimir Putin,” she continues, wearing a necklace in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag.

In the past, Channel One might have been considered an ideal job for Russian journalists, according to Cynthia Hooper, a Russia specialist at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, “now those same positions really don’t involve anything more. that very, very deeply complicit in fabricating stories designed to bolster Putin’s regime, fuel popular hatred against alleged external enemies, and lend support to criminal and destructive government policies,” she said. Atlantic earlier this year. “People seem nervous about getting out of script, or even knowing exactly what their script is supposed to be,” she continued, further highlighting the bravery of Ovsyannikova’s actions.

“Unfortunately, for the past few years I have worked at Channel One, where I was involved in Kremlin propaganda. I am extremely embarrassed,” Ovsyannikova continues in the pre-recorded video. “I am ashamed because I left the TV screen telling me lies. I’m ashamed because I let the Russians become zombies.

Ovsyannikova then discusses the channel’s collective silence over the 2014 poisoning of anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, whom the Russian opposition figure accuses Putin of being behind. “We didn’t show up at the protests,” Ovsyannikova laments, “it was just something we were quietly observing.”

According to OVDInfo, whose lawyers helped Marina, she was arrested shortly after her protest and was initially detained in the Ostankino TV Center. However, Pavel Chikov, head of human rights group Agora, tweeted this morning that his client had been missing for 12 hours.

“The material (not yet a criminal case) against Marina Ovsyannikova has been registered with the main investigative department of the TFR in Moscow, she has not yet been delivered there,” said lawyer Daniil Berman, who is located in the building on Arbat Street. ” Chikov tweeted at 1:20 p.m. on March 15.

One of Ovsyannikova’s lawyers, Anastasia Kostanova, told BBC Russia that her client also did not return her calls. “That means they’re hiding her from her lawyers and trying to deprive her of legal assistance and apparently they’re trying to prepare for the toughest prosecutions.”

According to reports, Ovsyannikova is now charged with organizing an unauthorized public event – ​​a less serious charge that could result in a fine, community service or up to 10 days in prison – and an image published in Russian media appears to show Ovsyannikova in court alongside lawyer Anton Gashinsky wearing a black blazer and a necklace in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

The worry is not over for Ovsyannikova and her family and analysts say it is likely she could be arrested again for spreading ‘fake news’.