The young woman’s appearance on the main news program on Russian state television lasts only six seconds. But those six seconds are enough for her message to get through. They are also enough for her message to be shared on social networks around the world, among others by the pianist Igor Levit. “What courage really means,” Levit writes about his tweet.
At 21:00 Russian time, what the state broadcaster Channel 1 later described as a mere “incident” occurred. An incident, however, that is being broadcast live, in millions of Russian homes. Suddenly, a woman with a white sign enters the picture from the right, while newscaster Ekaterina Andreyeva reads the reports. “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. Here they are lying to you,” reads the banner. The last sentence is written in English: “Russians against war” – Russians against war. To do this, the woman shouts out loud several times: “No to war!”
Channel 1 is one of the most important stations in the country, 250 million viewers, the program is broadcast all over the world, even in Germany, for example, it is received by a large part of the Russian community via satellite. “Vremya,” the news program, is the Russian equivalent of the Tagesschau, with the difference that the government doesn’t tell the Tagesschau what to broadcast, while Vremya is one of the main ways of spreading what the Kremlin believes to be the truth. . The anti-war protests hit the regime in a particularly sore spot here.
The woman can then be seen for six seconds, then the broadcast breaks and the director shows footage of a hospital. But the message is in the world. The brief excerpt spread immediately on social networks. Russian opponents praise the woman for her bravery.
Also the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta he picks up the action and shows a screenshot, but the protest message on the billboard has become unrecognizable. A law prohibits the Russian media from directly reporting on the war in Ukraine under the strictest penalties. Instead, officially only a “military special operation” can be mentioned. Novaya Gazetawho has been highly creative in facing censorship in recent days, describes the situation as follows: “During the Vremja program, a woman appeared behind the moderator’s back with a poster whose content we are not allowed to distribute. By order of the authority of media control.
The woman appears to be Maria Ovsiannikova, an employee of the television channel. She had previously announced her action on social media, where she posted a video message. She gave the reason that her father was Ukrainian and that the war against the neighboring country was a “crime” for which Putin was responsible. “They can’t arrest all of us,” Ovsiannikova said, amid protests over the war that has erupted in numerous Russian cities since the first day of the invasion. According to the human rights organization Owd-Info, more than 14,000 protesters have been detained by police across the country since February 24.
According to unconfirmed reports, Ovsiannikova is also now in police custody for disobeying the regime for six seconds.