Three things to know about the raid of “heroine” Marina Ovsyannikova in full Russian news

“No war. In a country where freedom of expression is punishable by jail time, Marina Ovsyannikova’s decision to interrupt the television news by waving a sign against the war in Ukraine is extremely rare. And courageous. 20 minutes looks back on this spectacular position in a country that continues to muzzle its citizens.

What happened ?

Ekaterina Andreïeva presents the television news of the state channel Pervi Kanal (“First Channel”) on Monday evening. A job that devastates her as she has been doing it for over twenty years. But on Monday, during her evening news, Vremia (“Time”), a woman, Marina Ovsyannikova, storms in behind her, waving a sign. The sentences “No to war. Don’t believe the propaganda. You’re being lied to here’ and ‘Russians against the war’ appear in front of the cameras as she sings, ‘Stop the war! No to war! Unmoved, Ekaterina Andreyeva continues to present her newspaper live before the management hastily launches a report on hospitals.

As a reminder, the history of Pervi Kanal, the propaganda channel of power, is marked by scandals related to the spread of false information. In 2014, when Vladimir Putin was preparing to annex Crimea, the channel alleged that Ukrainian soldiers had crucified a 3-year-old child. The channel remains immensely popular in Russia and is even the most watched channel, according to The Atlantic Ocean

Who is Marina Ovsyannikova?

Behind this big sign with a strong message, and this even more impressive gesture, is Marina Ovsyannikova. At the age of 44 she is a producer at Pervi Kanal. In a video recorded before she hit the news, the Russian citizen explained that her father is Ukrainian and her mother Russian. “They were never enemies,” she emphasizes, calling the invasion of Ukraine a “fratricidal war.”

She explains that she has “unfortunately” worked for several years for Kervi Channel, a television channel that “promotes Kremlin propaganda”. “I’m ashamed that I let lies on television, that I let the Russians zombie,” she explains before storming into the studio.

According to her Facebook page, Marina Ovsyannikova studied at Kuban State University in Krasnodar, near Georgia, and then graduated from the Russian Academy of Civil Service and National Economy in 2005.

What consequences could this position entail?

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the protest an act of “vandalism” on Tuesday. Marina Ovsyannikova faces jail time. According to the Russian news agency Tass, the television producer was arrested immediately after her intervention. Vladimir Putin, concerned about public opinion turning against him, has violently suppressed freedom of expression since the war in Ukraine began. A new amendment made under these circumstances makes it possible to prosecute anyone who disseminates information aimed at “discrediting” the Russian armed forces. And sentence her to a maximum of fifteen years in prison.

“I assume that my client, Marina Ovsiannikova, is facing criminal charges and not an administrative proceeding under a new law that provides for a maximum prison sentence of 15 years,” attorney Daniil Berman said. “There is a high probability that the authorities will use this as an example to silence other protesters,” he added, stressing that he still has not been able to meet his client or know exactly where she is being held.

It is also possible that Marina Ovsyannikova will be fined heavily. Faced with this possibility, Leonid Volkov, close to Vladimir Putin’s most famous opponent, Alexei Navalny (poisoned and then imprisoned) reacted. “We are ready to pay [son] fine” and that of “any other employee of the chain who would do the same”, he assures on Twitter

The video of Marina Ovsyannikova bursting in front of the cameras has spread like wildfire on social media. On her Facebook profile, tens of thousands of internet users send her messages of support, calling her a “heroine.” However, it is not certain whether the producer can read them, or even know about Leonid Volkov’s support, as Facebook has been blocked in Russia since March 5 and Twitter has been restricted. And Vladimir Putin’s hold on information in Russia is growing a little more every day.