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Russian TV journalist who protested war on-air fined for ‘discrediting’ army

Russian diaspora protest against war in Ukraine (Silar/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russian TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, known for her live on-air anti-war protest, has been convicted of “discrediting” the country’s armed forces in social media posts condemning Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

“The evidence confirms Ovsyannikova’s guilt. There is no reason to doubt its authenticity,” the judge at Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court said after a short hearing on July 28, in which Ovsyannikova had described the proceedings as “absurd.”

The judge said the court was fining Ovsyannikova 50,000 rubles ($822) for her social media posts.

Earlier this month, Ovsyannikova staged a single picket against the backdrop of the Kremlin, unfurling a poster with the inscription, “Putin is a murderer. His soldiers are fascists,” and photos of children killed in Ukraine. She was not detained at the time.

However, several days later, on July 17, she was arrested while at home in Moscow.

Ovsyannikova gained international recognition on March 14 when she burst onto the set of the Vremya news program on Russia’s Channel One holding a poster reading in part “Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you” in Russian. She also shouted in Russian, “Stop the war! No to war!”

Ovsyannikova was a producer with Channel One at the time of her protest. She was later detained and fined 30,000 rubles (about $500) by a court for calling for illegal protests.

Ovsyannikova resigned from Channel One and spent several months abroad, including in Ukraine, repeatedly expressing her condemnation of the war.

For three months, she trained at the German edition of Die Welt. In early July, the journalist announced her return to Russia.

Russia has stepped up detentions and prosecution of journalists, activists, and others who challenge the Kremlin line on its invasion of Ukraine. The government calls it a “special operation” and not a war.