The journalist who crashed a Russian state-run news broadcast to protest the invasion of Ukraine says she was interrogated for 14 hours and denied access to her lawyer and was not able to contact her family.
Marina Ovsyannikova made the remarks at a brief news conference on Tuesday following an appearance in court. Kevin Rothrock, an editor at Meduza, an independent Russian and English-language news outlet, reports that Ovsyannikova was fined 30,000 (about $280) for inciting protests and released. Ovsyannikova says she will speak more on Wednesday after she gets some sleep.
— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) March 15, 2022
Ovsyannikova made her bold protest on a live evening newscast on Monday, appearing suddenly behind an anchor while holding a sign that read, “No War,” in English, followed by the following text, translated from Russian: “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you.” Ovsyannikova also appeared to be chanting, “Stop the war! No to war!” in Russian before the camera cut away from her.
According to tweets from Pavel Chikov, a Russian lawyer and human rights activist, Ovsyannikova was taken into custody by police in Moscow. Chikov also said Ovsyannikova’s lawyer will be Daniil Berman, attorney who was arrested himself in May 2020 for protesting against the use of force by the police on other lawyers in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic; Berman has also represented Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina.
Prior to her live TV protest, Ovsyannikova recorded a video in which she said, “What is happening now in Ukraine is a crime. Russia is the aggressor and this aggression is one the conscience of only one person, and that person is Vladimir Putin. My father is Ukrainian and my mother is Russian, and they were never enemies.”
«К сожалению, в последние годы я работала на Первом канале и занималась кремлевской пропагандой, и мне сейчас очень стыдно за это». Редактор Марина Овсянникова, прорвавшаяся в прямой эфир с антивоенным плакатом, до этого записала видеообращение. pic.twitter.com/fahgGOjPaV
— The Insider (@the_ins_ru) March 14, 2022
Ovsyannikova went on to express regret about her own contributions to Russian propaganda as an editor at Channel One, saying, “Now I am very ashamed of this. I’m ashamed I told lies from the television. Ashamed that I let them zombify the Russian people.”
Nodding to the Maidan Revolution in 2014, Ovsyannikova continued, “We were silent in 2014 when this was first starting. We didn’t go out to protests when the Kremlin poisoned [Russian opposition leader Alexei] Navalny. We were just onlookers in this inhumane regime. And now the world has turned away from us and the for ten future generations they won’t be able to wash away the shame of this fratricidal war.”
Ovsyannikova ended with a rallying cry, saying, “It is in our power to stop this lunacy. Go to protests, don’t be scared, they can’t detain us all.”
Russia has been cracking down on anti-war protestors, and Ovsyannikova will likely face stiff punishment for her action. Earlier this month, Russia passed a law that effectively made it illegal to speak out against the war in Ukraine, or even call it a “war” (Russia is referring to it as a “special military operation). Anyone who spreads “false information,” per The New York Times, could face up to 15 years in prison. To date, per the independent Russian human rights project OVD-Info, more than 14,000 people across Russia have been arrested for protesting the war in Ukraine since Feb. 24.
Additional reporting by Vera Vinson.