“Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They will lie to you here. The Russians are against the war.” With these phrases on a poster on Moscow state television, Marina Ovsyannikova rebelled against Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine — On the biggest evening news show “Vremja,” she held the banner up to the camera and paced back and forth as anchorwoman Ekaterina Andreyeva spoke about Western sanctions.”No to war!” Ovsyannikova shouted before before the transmission was interrupted and another report was displayed.
The protest is an unprecedented event in the quasi-militarily regulated state television broadcasting with pro-Kremlin and highly paid propagandists. Since then, there has been no trace of the 44-year-old woman, who on Tuesday was celebrated internationally as a courageous heroine. According to information from the EU, she has disappeared. “Her lawyers cannot contact her,” said a spokesman for the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell. The protest is the latest example of a courageous stand that refutes the Kremlin’s lies and propaganda.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov described the incident as “hooliganism” and that the station management had to deal with it. Even the state media couldn’t help but report on it. The importance of the “Wremja” program is comparable to that of the “Tagesschau” in Germany.
At first it was said that Owsjannikova was threatened with regulatory proceedings. The publisher and mother of two could also face prosecution under a new law that makes defamation by the Russian military a severe penalty. Anyone who tarnishes the reputation of the armed forces faces up to 15 years in prison in Russia. Calling Russia’s war in Ukraine a “war” is also a punishable offence. Officially there is only talk of a “special military action.”
Ovsjannikova had recorded a video before the television appearance, which was quickly released after the action. In it, the station employee says that she is ashamed of having broadcast Kremlin propaganda for years. “What is happening in Ukraine is a crime.” Only Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible for the aggression. He called on his compatriots to protest against the war. “It’s up to us to put an end to all this madness.” The state cannot lock up everyone.
The mother of two explains her reasons in a video
Ovzyannikova, who wears a necklace in the colors of the Russian and Ukrainian flags in the video, says she is the daughter of a Ukrainian father and a Russian mother, “and they were never enemies.” “This chain around my neck is like a symbol that Russia must stop the fratricidal war immediately and that our brother peoples can still reconcile.”
Following his protest, he received a wave of recognition around the world. The recording of the scene in which she appears behind the newscaster with a handwritten sign was widely shared on Tuesday. “What courage really means,” wrote pianist Igor Levit. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked him. He praised the Russians “who try to tell the truth.”
And Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s camp also thanked him after he criticized in the video that the Kremlin opponent had been poisoned. To this day, Russia’s Kremlin and state television deny that Navalny barely survived an assassination attempt with the nerve agent Novichok in 2020. Navalny, who is in a prison camp and faces many years prisoner in a controversial new trial, held Putin personally responsible for the attack with the banned chemical warfare agent.
Navalny’s team announced that it would support the TV publisher. Mann wanted to accept whatever sanctions could be imposed on him, Maria Pewtschich of Navalny’s team wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. Russian journalists are not allowed to talk about war, only about a “special military operation”. There was still hope that he could just keep a fine.