Details surrounding the woman who stormed Russian TV news in protest of the war in Ukraine and what happened next have been revealed.
The Russian journalist who bravely stormed onto a live TV news broadcast in protest against the war in Ukraine has been “detained” and is reported as “missing”.
Marina Ovsyannikova, who is an editor at state-controlled flagship station, Channel 1, disappeared after she ran onto the set during a live bulletin yesterday holding a sign in support of Ukraine that read “no war” and shouted slogans against Russia.
Ms Ovsyannikova was identified by human rights group OVD-Info which has been tracking stories of residents being detained in Russia.
The news presenter was speaking about the collaboration between Belarus and Russia when Ms Ovsyannikova suddenly appeared on screen. The news program, Vremya, is Russia’s top rating main nightly news show.
“Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here,” the sign reads.
Ms Ovsyannikova’s attempts were only visible for mere seconds as the broadcast cut to a prerecorded news report, but she has since been hailed across the world, including Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Kremlin overnight however described the act as “hooliganism”, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov warning: “The channel and those who are supposed to will get to the bottom of this.
“As far as this woman is concerned, this is hooliganism,” he said.
Ms Ovsyannikova’s lawyers have since confirmed they are unable to find her and her whereabouts are now unknown.
She was reportedly detained at Ostankino police station, “but according to the officers on duty, she was not there”.
Her phone has been unanswered since the incident.
‘Currently in custody’
Pavel Chikov, a lawyer in Russia, warned overnight that “Marina Ovsyannikova has not yet been found. She has been imprisoned for more than 12 hours”.
Russia’s state-run Tass news agency confirmed “the Russian Investigative Committee has launched a preliminary inquiry on Ms Ovsyannikova” and that “the woman is currently in custody”, but no one is quite sure where. It is believed she will be delivered to the Main Investigation Department in Moscow but “has not yet been delivered there”, according to lawyer Daniil Berman, who is at the building.
“A preliminary inquiry is being conducted regarding Ovsyannikova to determine whether her actions constitute a crime under Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code (‘Public dissemination of deliberately false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation’),” the source said.
It means state investigators are looking into whether she should face a new law imposed by Putin where Russians who describe military efforts in Ukraine as a war or spread what the Kremlin calls “fake” information can face up to 15 years in prison.
The Investigative Committee of Russia is the main federal investigating authority in the country and answerable to Vladimir Putin.
One of Ms Ovsyannikova’s lawyers Anastasia Kostanova “told BBC Russian she had been trying to reach Ms Ovsyannikova by phone but her calls had gone unanswered,” the publication said.
Ms Kostanova said she “spent the whole night looking” for the missing journalist.
“This means that they are hiding her from her lawyers and trying to deprive her of legal assistance and, apparently, they are trying to prepare the most stringent prosecution,” Ms Kostanova said.
Almost 15,000 people have been detained across Russia during anti-war protests since Feb. 24, according to OVD-Info.
‘She told me she was going to do it’
It comes as a friend of Ms Ovsyannikova said she told her two days ago that she was going to pull the stunt.
“The anger has been building up with her ever since the war started,” the anonymous source told The Guardian’s Pjotr Sauer.
“Two days ago, she told me how she was going to do it.
“Like someone who has been working for the state, she was extremely scared of the system and losing the life she built up. Until last night.”
Before storming onto the set, Ms Ovsyannikova recorded a video message in which she said, “What is going on in Ukraine is a crime.”
She said she was “ashamed” that she worked for Russian media and that “I allowed myself to tell lies from the television screen.
“I am very ashamed. I am ashamed that I’ve allowed the lies to be said on the TV screens. I am ashamed that I let the Russian people be zombified.”