A Russian journalist who appeared on a live TV news programme to protest against the war in Ukraine reportedly gone missing overnight.
Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at the Russian state-controlled Channel 1, was detained after she ran on to the set on Monday, March 14, 2022, holding an anti-war placard.
The placard, which displayed clear and visible for a few seconds, read: “No war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.” As things stand, her whereabouts are now unknown.
Ms. Ovsyannikova’s lawyer, Pavel Chikov, posted on Twitter that he is unable to find his client. “Marina Ovsyannikova has not yet been found. She has been imprisoned for more than 12 hours,” he said on Tuesday (March 15, 2022) morning.
Chikov averred the initial police investigation “does not provide grounds for detention and imprisonment”. Police arrested her over a new law that bans calling Russia’s military action in Ukraine an “invasion” or spreading “fake news” about the conflict.
Though the strictest punishments carried a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years, Mr. Chikov said Ms. Ovsyannikova was likely to be fined 30,000 to 60,000 Roubles (£205-£410).
‘Don’t be afraid’- Ms. Ovsyannikova
During the protest, which happened live on Russia’s main night news programme, Ms. Ovsyannikova said, “No to war! Stop the war!” before the programme director cut in early to a recorded news report.
Before the incident, she recorded a video in which she described events in Ukraine as a “crime” and pointed out that she was ashamed to work for what she called ‘Kremlin propaganda’.
“I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to tell lies from the television screen. Ashamed that I allowed Russians to be turned into zombies. We just silently watched this inhumane regime.”Marina Ovsyannikova, Editor at the Russian state-controlled Channel 1
Ms. Ovsyannikova, who revealed that her father was Ukrainian, called on the Russian people to protest against the war, saying that only they could “stop the madness”. She also announced saying:“Don’t be afraid of anything, they can’t imprison all of us.”
From the moment Ms. Ovsyannikova’s identity became known, she has received dozens of comments on her Facebook page in Ukrainian, Russian and English, thanking her for her actions. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, also praised her for “telling the truth”. But Kremlin Spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, pointed out her actions as an act of hooliganism.
The state of Russia media now
Russian television news has long been controlled by the Kremlin and independent viewpoints are rare on all the major channels.
According to the state-controlled Russian media, it sees the war as a “special military operation”, painting Ukraine as the aggressor and has described Ukraine’s elected government as neo-Nazis.
Several of the remaining independent media outlets in Russia have stopped broadcasting or publishing after pressure from the authorities. Some of the affected media outlets include the radio station, Echo of Moscow, and TV Rain, an online TV channel.
Other media outlets, like newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, are attempting to report on the situation without falling foul of the new censorship laws. Access to the UK’s BBC has also been restricted inside Russia, leading the corporation to issue guidance over how to continue using its services.
Russia’s media watchdog accused the BBC and other foreign broadcasters of the “deliberate and systematic circulation of materials containing false information”.
Many social media sites have also been blocked, further restricting the number and diversity of news sources available to people inside Russia.
Facebook and Twitter have been under restriction for several days, while Instagram, which is particularly popular in Russia, was blocked on Monday, March 14, 2022, although many Russians have found other ways around the restrictions.