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Russian journalist who protested war on air detained for discrediting army

Marina Ovsyannikova says Russian law enforcement raided her home at 6 a.m.; ‘They scared my young daughter’

Marina Ovsyannikova (R), the journalist who became known internationally after protesting against the Russian military action in Ukraine during a prime-time news broadcast on state television, appears in court in Moscow, July 28, 2022. (Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)
Marina Ovsyannikova (R), the journalist who became known internationally after protesting against the Russian military action in Ukraine during a prime-time news broadcast on state television, appears in court in Moscow, July 28, 2022. (Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)

Russian investigators on Wednesday launched a criminal probe against Marina Ovsyannikova, who denounced Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine on live TV, and detained the journalist, her lawyer said.

“A criminal case has been launched,” lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov told AFP, adding they were now waiting for investigators to decide on a pre-trial measure for the 44-year-old.

In a recent interview with AFP, Ovsyannikova had expressed hope that authorities would not place her in pre-trial detention because she has two children.

Writing on messaging app Telegram earlier in the day, Ovsyannikova said that 10 members of law enforcement raided her home at 6 a.m.

“They scared my young daughter,” she added.

In March, Ovsyannikova, then an editor at Channel One television, barged onto the set of its flagship Vremya (Time) evening news, holding a poster reading “No War” in English.

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)

Criticism of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops to Ukraine has been virtually outlawed in Russia, and her protest made headlines around the world.

French President Emmanuel Macron has offered her asylum or other forms of consular protection.

The criminal probe against Ovsyannikova was launched after two Moscow courts ordered the journalist to pay fines for discrediting the Russian army.

Ovsyannikova said she had been accused of spreading “fake” information about the Russian army.

In mid-July, Ovsyannikova staged a one-woman protest near the Kremlin, holding a poster that read “Putin is a murderer.”

Writing on Telegram on Wednesday, she said that more than 350 children had already died in Ukraine.

“How many children have to die before you stop?” she added.

In the months following her protest, Ovsyannikova spent time abroad, working for Germany’s Die Welt for three months.

In early July, she announced that she was returning to Russia to settle a dispute over the custody of her two children.

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