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What has happened to Marina Ovsyannikova? Reporter released with a fine after anti-war protest on Russian news channel

The Russian journalist and editor appeared in the background of a news bulletin on a state-owned channel with a message reading 'Russians against war'.

The Russian journalist and editor appeared in the background of a news bulletin on a state-owned channel with a message reading 'Russians against war'.

A journalist and television editor who staged an anti-war protest on Russian’s main state news channel has been released with a fine after appearing in court on Tuesday.

Marina Ovsyannikova was arrested and detained at an unknown location overnight after voicing her opposition to the invasion of Ukraine on Monday.

In response to large protests across Russian cities during the first week of the conflict, the Kremlin introduced tough new laws against ‘fake news’. This can be taken to mean anything that contradicts the official government version of events and can carry a maximum prison sentence of up to 15 years behind bars.

However Russian news outlet RBC has reported that she was only charged with an administrative offence under the state’s protesting laws. She has been fined 30,000 rubles for her unlicensed protest, the equivalent of around $280.

What was the Russian TV protest against the Ukraine war?

Ovsyannikova is an employee of Channel One, working as an editor. During the regular news bulletin on Monday she appeared behind news anchor Ekaterina Andreeva with a message in Russian which read “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here.

The message also included the phrase “No war” and “Russians against war” in English, suggesting that she wanted her protest to be seen overseas.

The news channel quickly cut away from the shot with Ovsyannikova and she was quickly arrested by Russian police. Human rights group OVD-Info had expressed concern regarding her whereabouts but she was confirmed to be appearing in court on Tuesday afternoon.

In the aftermath of the protest a pre-recorded video was shared online, showing Ovsyannikova explaining her actions: “What is happening in Ukraine is a crime. And Russia is the aggressor here. And responsibility for this aggression rests on the conscience of a single man: Vladimir Putin.”

Facebook page shows support for Marina Ovsyannikova

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The Kremlin had introduced tough anti-protest laws in the hope of stamping out the protests that erupted in Moscow and other Russian cities. In the three weeks since the invasion began, an estimated 15,000 people have been detained in Russia for their involvement in demonstrations but visible acts of dissent continue.

Numerous media outlets have been blocked in the country, including dozens of Russian news sources, and the use of Facebook and Instagram has also been banned.

However news of Ovsyannikova’s bravery has been noticed overseas and drawn millions of people to view the video of her demonstration. Furthermore within hours of the protest Ovsyannikova’s Facebook page had received more than 40,000 messages of good will, crediting her for standing up to the authoritarian government.