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Marina Ovsyannikova

Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Russia's Channel One, interrupts a live news broadcast to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine on March 14, 2022. (Photo: Channel One screen grab)

"They're Lying to You": Anti-War Protester Interrupts Russian State TV Broadcast

"It's in our power alone to stop this madness," the demonstrator, Channel One editor Marina Ovsyannikova, says in a pre-recorded video. "Go protest. Don't be afraid of anything. They can't put us all in prison."

Brett Wilkins

A Russian news editor is reportedly in police custody Monday after staging a daring protest against media misinformation about President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine during a live television news broadcast.

Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at state-owned Channel One, interrupted the network's evening newscast shouting: "Stop the war! No to war!" while holding up a sign reading: "No War. Don't believe propaganda. They're lying to you. Russians against war."

According to multiple reports, Ovsyannikova was arrested following her demonstration.

Ovsyannikova also published an apparently pre-recorded video plea for peace. According to a translation by Financial Times Moscow bureau chief Max Seddon, the editor—who is wearing a beaded necklace in the colors of the Ukrainian and Russian flags—says that "what's happening in Ukraine is a crime, and Russia is the aggressor. The responsibility for this aggression lies with one man: Vladimir Putin."

"My father is Ukrainian, my mother is Russian, and they were never enemies," she says. "This necklace [shows] Russia must stop this fratricidal war."

"Unfortunately, for the last few years I've been working for Channel One," Ovsyannikova continues. "I've been doing Kremlin propaganda and I'm very ashamed of it—that I let people lie from TV screens and allowed the Russian people to be zombified."

"We didn't say anything in 2014 when it only just began. We didn't protest when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny," she adds, referring to the Russian invasion of Crimea and alleged attempted assassination of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

"We just silently watched this inhuman regime,"  Ovsyannikova says. "Now the whole world has turned away from us, and 10 generations of our descendants won't wash off this fratricidal war."

"We Russians are thinking and intelligent people," she concludes. "It's in our power alone to stop this madness. Go protest. Don't be afraid of anything. They can't put us all in prison."

Press freedom advocates have condemned the Russian government for its total crackdown on media dissent.

According to Russian journalist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dmitry Muratov, news outlets were issued an edict prohibiting the use of words including "war," "invasion," and "occupation." The Duma, or Russian parliament, subsequently passed a law punishing what it called "fake" news about the invasion of Ukraine with as many as 15 years behind bars.

As Freedom of the Press Foundation executive director Trevor Timm noted, the new law effectively forced numerous foreign media outlets to stop broadcasting in Russia.

Independent Russian television channel Dozhd TV and liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy were also taken off the air by Moscow authorities. Dozhd reporter Denis Kataev fled Russia for fear of prosecution, declaring that "the era of independent media in Russia has ended."

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