Russian authorities have searched the home of a former state television journalist who aired a protest against the war in Ukraine.
In March, Marina Ovsyannikova appeared during a live TV broadcast holding a sign that read “NO WAR. stop the war Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here.”
It was the first time a Russian state media official had publicly condemned the war.
The authorities have now launched a criminal case against her for spreading false information about the Russian armed forces, her lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov wrote on social media.
The case against Ms. Ovsyannikova is admitted under a recent law, enacted after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, criminalizing testimony against the military.
If convicted, the former journalist faces up to 15 years in prison.
Lawyer Zakhvatov told independent news site Meduza that the case is likely linked to a protest by Ms Ovsyannikova last month.
She appeared in front of the Kremlin with a banner that read: “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists”.
what happened before
Ms Ovsyannikova made international headlines working as a producer at Russia’s state-funded broadcaster Channel One when she hosted her on-air protest on March 14.
She emerged behind anchor Ekaterina Andreeva and her sign and shout “Stop the war, No to war” could be seen and heard for a few seconds before the station switched to another report.
At the time, she was charged with insulting the Russian military and fined 30,000 rubles (about £223.40).
Before the protest, Ms. Ovsyannikova also recorded a message that OVD-Info, an independent Russian human rights group, later tweeted.
According to a translation by the Russian human rights group, she said in the video: “What is happening in Ukraine right now is a real crime. And Russia is the aggressor.
“And responsibility for this crime rests on the conscience of one person only, and that person is Vladimir Putin.”
She then quit her job and became something of an activist—organizing anti-war pickets and speaking out against the conflict whenever she could.
But Ms. Ovsannikova has been fined twice more in recent weeks.
The first was for slandering the military in a critical post on Facebook, and the second for comments she made in court when opposition politician Ilya Yashin was remanded in custody for spreading false information about the military.
Why was the protest so shocking?
For millions of Russians, state television is the only source of news.
After the invasion of Ukraine, state television channels such as Channel One closely followed the Kremlin news that Russia was being forced to act in Ukraine to demilitarize and “denazify” the country – as well as to protect the Russians in Ukraine from “genocide.” ” to protect “.
Since the beginning of the war, more than two dozen Russian media outlets have either been blocked by Russian media outlets or have had their activities suspended.
Twenty-nine British journalists have also been banned, with a statement released by Russia’s foreign ministry saying those on the list were “involved in the intentional dissemination of false and one-sided information” about Russia and the war in Ukraine.
The list includes the heads of the BBC, The Times and The Guardian.
Social media platforms Facebook and Instagram have also been banned in the country, and access to foreign and independent media such as BBC World News has been restricted by Russian authorities.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Ms. Ovsyannikova for her actions.
He said: “I am grateful to the Russians who keep trying to convey the truth.
“To those fighting disinformation and telling the truth, real facts to their friends and family and personally to the woman who walked into the Channel One studio with an anti-war placard.”
What happens next?
Ms Ovsyannikova is now expected to be brought to the investigative committee for questioning, Mr Zakhvatov said on Telegram.
According to Net Freedoms, a legal aid group that focuses on free speech cases, to date (August 10) there have been 79 criminal cases for spreading false information about the military.
In addition, there are up to 4,000 administrative procedures for disparaging the armed forces.