Ukraine war: Russian anti-war protester interrupts state TV news broadcast

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By Euronews
This photo reportedly shows an anti-war protester interrupting the Channel One broadcast.
This photo reportedly shows an anti-war protester interrupting the Channel One broadcast.   -  Copyright  Screengrab of Channel One broadcast

An anti-war protester interrupted a Russian news broadcast to denounce the war in Ukraine in a stunning move against the government's efforts to suppress any criticism of the invasion.

Journalist Marina Ovsyannikova was later charged with organising an "unauthorised public event" and fined 30,000 roubles (€256).

Video footage posted by multiple media organisations showed a woman holding a sign that read "Stop the war. Don't trust the propaganda. They lie to you here" in front of Russia's Channel One news presenter on Monday.

Pavel Chikov, a human rights lawyer in Russia, identified Ovsyannikova and said that she had been detained after the broadcast. According to OVD-Info, an independent Russian monitoring group, she is an editor working at Channel One.

In an earlier video statement that was reposted by OVD-Info, Ovsyannikova said that her father is Ukrainian and her mother is Russian.

"What is happening in Ukraine now is a crime, and Russia is the aggressor," she said, adding that she's ashamed of working at Channel One, "doing Kremlin propaganda".

She urged Russians to take to the streets to protest the war: "Take to the streets. Don't be afraid of anything. They cannot put us all in prison."

"The whole world has turned away from us and ten generations of our descendants will not wash away the shame of this fratricidal war."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the protest an act of "hooliganism" on Tuesday, while Channel One said in a statement that it was investigating an "incident" when an "outsider" appeared in the broadcast frame.

Like other state media, the broadcaster has continually labelled Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "special military operation".

A new Russian law passed earlier this month prohibits criticism or spreading "false news" about the war in Ukraine, with offences punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

But it is reported that Ovsyannikova's administrative offence related to her social media video, rather than her protest on Channel One.

An image widely shared on Telegram showed Ovsyannikova appearing in a Moscow district court on Tuesday alongside one of her lawyers Anton Gashinsky.

OVD-Info had earlier said the journalist was missing after two of their lawyers had arrived at a police department in Moscow but were told Ovsyannikova wasn't there.

"There is a strong possibility that the authorities will make an example of her to silence other protesters," one lawyer had told AFP.

Since her identity was revealed, Ovsyannikova has received dozens of supportive comments on her social media pages. But a number of fake profiles have also been set up on Twitter and Instagram in Ovsyannikova's name.

A spokesperson for the UN human rights office had urged Russian authorities not to punish Ovsyannikova "for exercising her right to freedom of expression".