Russian-Ukrainian crisis: journalist detained and charged for criticism – News

Marina Ovsyannikova faces up to 10 years in prison if tried and convicted

Photo: AP


Published: Thu 11 August 2022, 12:27

Russian authorities arrested a former state television journalist who quit after she staged an on-air protest against Moscow’s war with Ukraine, and charged her on Wednesday with spreading false information about Russia’s armed forces , according to his lawyer.

Marina Ovsyannikova was charged over another street protest last month, when she held up a banner that read:

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children were killed [in Ukraine]. How many more children would have to die for you to stop?

If tried and convicted, Ovsyannikova faces up to 10 years in prison, under a new law that criminalizes statements against the military. This law was enacted shortly after Russian troops entered Ukraine, his lawyer, Dmitry Zakhvatov, explained in a Telegram message.

Her home was searched on Wednesday and she was taken in for questioning. Zakhvatov said the former Russian state-funded Channel One producer will spend the night in a holding cell at Moscow police headquarters. Speaking to reporters outside the investigators’ office, the lawyer said she was holding firm.

He said the new law, which allows people to be detained for picketing, showed that Russia’s justice system was in “utter failure”.

Ovsyannikova made international headlines on March 14, when she appeared behind an evening newscaster holding a poster saying “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here”.

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

She was accused of denigrating the Russian military and fined 30,000 rubles.

After quitting her job, Ovsyannikova became something of an activist, organizing anti-war pickets and speaking out publicly against the conflict.

She has been fined two more in recent weeks for denigrating the military in a critical Facebook post and in comments she made in court, where opposition figure Ilya Yashin has been remanded in custody. awaiting trial – another person accused of spreading false information about the army. .

According to Net Freedoms, a legal aid group specializing in free speech cases, there were 79 criminal cases for spreading false information about the military and up to 4,000 administrative cases for disparaging the armed forces as of Wednesday. .

Independent journalists in Russia are particularly watched by the Kremlin. A Moscow court on Wednesday fined the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta 350,000 rubles for “mass abuse of freedom of information”. It is unclear what the newspaper has been accused of doing wrong.

Since Putin came to power more than two decades ago, nearly two dozen journalists have been killed, including at least four who worked for Novaya Gazeta.

Its editor, Dmitry Muratov, won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. In June, he auctioned off his prize to raise money for Ukrainian refugee children. The gold medal sold for $103.5 million.


Christi C. Elwood