Exiled Russian reporter who protested Ukraine war on state TV jailed in absentia

Marina Ovsyannikova, 45, handed eight years in prison; she fled the country last year

Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian state TV employee, interrupts the evening news broadcast, holding a sign condemning President Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine on March 14, 2022. (Screen capture/Twitter)
File: Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian state TV employee, interrupts the evening news broadcast, holding a sign condemning President Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine on March 14, 2022. (Screen capture/Twitter: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law))

MOSCOW, Russia — An exiled Russian reporter who protested against Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine live on state TV was handed over eight years jail in absentia Wednesday for spreading “fakes” about Moscow’s army.

Marina Ovsyannikova, 45, held up a protest placard during an evening news program in March 2022 but was sentenced for a separate protest she made outside the Kremlin four months later.

“The court sentenced Ovsyannikova to eight years and six months’ imprisonment, to be served in a general regime penal colony,” the Moscow prosecutor’s office said.

Ovsyannikova, who was not present for the sentencing, fled the country last year after escaping house arrest with her 11-year-old daughter.

In a statement posted Tuesday before the sentencing, she called the charges against her “absurd and politically motivated.”

“They decided to flog me for not being afraid and for calling things by their names,” she said.

File: Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian journalist who protested against the invasion of Ukraine live on television poses during a photo session before a press conference at ‘Reporters without Borders’ (RSF) NGO in Paris, France, on February 10, 2023. (Joel Saget/AFP)

“Of course, I do not admit my guilt. And I do not deny any of my words. I made a very hard, but the only right moral choice in my life, and I have already paid a high enough price for it,” she said.

Her lawyer was not immediately available to comment on her sentence Wednesday.

Since Russia launched full-scale hostilities against Ukraine last year, authorities have launched an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, jailing or fining dozens who oppose the conflict.

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