Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova has been fined and released from detention after she protested against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on a live television news program with an anti-war video.
Ovsyannikova is an editor at Channel 1 in Russia, which is controlled by the state. On Monday, she ran onto a live broadcast holding a sign that said “no war.”
The journalist was then detained for two days and questioned for 14 hours. In detention, she was not allowed to contact any friends or family and was given no access to legal help. She was eventually released and slapped with a fine of 30,000 roubles (about $300 USD).
Bursting onto the Channel One set was not the cause of her fine. Rather, it was a video statement she made before her public protest, in which she said she was “ashamed” of having worked for Channel One and spreading “Kremlin propaganda.”
She called on the Russian people to protest against the ongoing war in Ukraine, saying that only the Russian people have the power to “stop all this madness.” She encouraged people to be fearless.
There were fears that Ovsyannikova would be prosecuted under a much more serious, new, criminal law that bans calling Russia’s war against Ukraine an “invasion” or from spreading “fake news” about the conflict, as determined by the government.
After she was arrested, Ovsyannikova vanished from sight for two days and reappeared in a courtroom.
Images of Ovsyannikova’s protest went viral across the world after she ran onto the set of one of the most-watched news programs in Russia, called Vremya. The sign said, “No war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.”
There are still risks that the criminal case will be reopened. Experts have said that there were probably differing views within Kremlin advisers about how best to deal with her case and that while some may have pushed for tough sentences, others may have feared backlash.