On Monday, a woman rushed onto the set of an evening news program on Russia’s flagship state television channel, Channel One, holding a poster saying, “No war. Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They lie to you here. Russians against the war. She shouted, “Stop the war, no to the war” before the camera cut.
Russian news agency TASS quoted a law enforcement source as saying the woman worked for the channel. The protester, identified as Marina Ovsyannikova, was arrested and taken to a Moscow police station, according to TASS and OVD-Info, a human rights group that tracks protests and helps protesters find lawyers.
Human rights lawyers said on Tuesday they had not yet determined Ms Ovsyannikova’s whereabouts, after failing to find her at the police station on Monday.
Russia’s Investigative Committee is considering indicting him under a law President Vladimir Putin signed earlier this month that imposes a prison term of up to 15 years for anyone found guilty of knowingly broadcasting false information and data on the use of the Russian armed forces, TASS reported.
Russia has sought to silence any reports of the war that do not follow the Kremlin’s narrative that the invasion is a special military operation aimed at liberating breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine.
OVD-Info estimates that nearly 15,000 protesters have been arrested at rallies since the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. Some two dozen independent Russian media outlets have since been forced to close or have chosen to halt their operations. Facebook,
Twitter and Instagram have been blocked in the country. The government says more than 3,000 people were arrested during the March 6 anti-war protests.
The woman’s dissenting protest comes after President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that imposes a sentence of up to 15 years in prison on anyone found guilty of knowingly spreading false information and data on the use of Russian armed forces.
Since the start of the war, Russia has cracked down on foreign media and social networks. Some two dozen independent Russian media organizations have been forced to close or have chosen to stop their activities. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all been blocked in the country.
State-backed and independent polls show that around 60% of Russians support the invasion.
OVD-Info shared a video Ms Ovsyannikova allegedly recorded before her protest. A Facebook profile using that name shows a photo of the woman wearing the same necklace – in the colors of the Russian and Ukrainian flags – that she wore during the television appearance.
Within two hours of the incident, more than 15,000 people had left comments under the photo on the Facebook page. “Amazed at your courage,” read one comment. “Thank you very much for the truth.”
OVD-Info released a videotape which it claims was made by the woman. “What is happening in Ukraine right now is a crime, and Russia is the aggressor country,” she said. “The responsibility for this aggression rests on the conscience of one person, and that person is Vladimir Putin.”
The woman said her father was Ukrainian and her mother Russian. She said she was ashamed to work for “Kremlin propaganda” and called on Russians to demonstrate against the war. “It is only in our power to stop this. Go to demonstrations; do not be afraid. They can’t stop us all.
In an address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was grateful to Russians “who keep trying to convey the truth, real facts to their friends and loved ones… And personally to the woman who walked into the Channel One studio with an anti-war poster.”
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Appeared in the March 15, 2022 print edition as “Woman Brandishes Antiwar Poster on Russian TV Show”.