Marina Ovsyannikova’s outstanding act of defiance, which saw her burst onto the Channel One set during the Vremya news program – watched by 250 million viewers worldwide – and interrupt famed presenter Ekaterina Andreeva to protest the war in Ukraine on March 16, inspired the world.
Detained by guards shortly after the brave stunt, lawyers spent nearly 24 hours searching for Osyvannikova before she finally appeared in Moscow’s Ostankino District Court on Tuesday evening. She has since been fined 30,000 rubles (£214) and released from court after pleading not guilty to the charge of staging an unauthorized public event.
“Those were indeed some of the most difficult days of my life,” she told reporters after the short hearing, for which she wore a black blazer and a necklace in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. “I spent two days without sleeping. I was interrogated for more than 14 hours. They didn’t allow me to reach my family or give me any legal help. I was in a rather difficult position.
As one of the most experienced members of Channel One, who worked for several years in the News Programs Directorate, Ovsyannikova was able to bypass the armed guards and run after newsreader 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 several independent Russian media to close their doors and journalists to flee the country. The ultimate sentence is up to 15 years in prison, which some fear Ovsyannikova could still face because she was fined for the video statement that was released after the protest, rather than for being introduced on the set of Channel One.
“There are still risks that a criminal case will be opened against Ovsyannikova, but the chances have decreased sharply after the fine she received today,” said Pavel Chikov, the head of Agora International Human Rights. Group. “No case has yet been opened against his performance, and the prosecutor’s office may yet decide to do so,” he continued. “But the fact that she has already received a swift punishment indicates that a political decision has been made not to persecute her further.”
Naturally, Ovsyannikova is called Russia’s bravest woman 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. Before her sentencing, French President Emmanuel Macron even offered Ovsyannikova consular “protection” and said he would raise her case with Vladimir Putin.
The 43-year-old is a mother of two children, whose ex-husband Igor Ovsyannikov is a longtime director 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 was born in a Ukrainian Black Sea port called Odessa, which is currently preparing for a Russian attack. Ovsyannikova holds 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 said in a pre-recorded video that was uploaded to her Facebook by human rights group OVD-Info shortly after. time after bursting onto Channel One. what is happening in 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.
Once 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 than very, very deep complicity in fabricating stories designed to bolster Putin’s regime, fuel popular hatred against perceived 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.”
Several prominent journalists have reportedly left their posts in state media since Ovsyannikova’s protest, including Zhanna Agalakova and Vadim Gluser of Channel One and NTV respectively. For Tatiana Stanovaya, political analyst and founder of R Politik, this is indicative of discontent within the system. “Either at this moment this wave does not lead to anything. Or we can see similar manifestations more and more often – these vocal, desperate acts where people make similar gestures.
That Ovsyannikova is completely safe from further convictions by the Russian state, one thing is certain: her courageous actions have sparked a wave of resistance both at home and abroad.