War in Ukraine: who is Marina Ovsiannikova, the citizen who challenged Putin in the middle of the Russian news?

It is a sequence of a few seconds that could be a date. A woman drowned out the most-watched television news in Russia on Monday night and landed on her set, a plate in her hand. As covert as it was, the message was meant to be clear: “No to war. Don’t believe the propaganda. You’re being lied to here.” A few seconds before the launch of a report, Marina Ovsiannikova appears on set, her gaze fixed, and condemning the military offensive in Ukraine, an extremely rare scene in a country where information is strictly controlled by the state.

The person whose name is now spread in newspapers around the world will be convicted on Tuesday by a Moscow court for demonstrating illegally. At her trial, Marina Ovsiannikova pleaded not guilty. “I do not admit my guilt, she declared in court, I remain convinced that Russia is committing a crime (…) and that it is the aggressor of Ukraine”.

Convicted of committing an “administrative offense”, she risked ten days in prison, but was eventually fined 30,000 rubles (about 250 euros). However, the employee may be released, but face criminal charges, punishable by severe penalties, up to 15 years in prison.

Because this hearing was not directly devoted to her performance on the air, but to a video that the defendant had broadcast in parallel on the Internet to denounce the entry of tens of thousands of Russian troops into Ukraine. “There is a good chance that the authorities will make an example of it to silence other protesters,” his lawyer Daniil Berman said.

However, this Russian citizen, arrested minutes after her action, does not have the profile of an adversary of power. Far from there. Marina Ovsiannikova, a producer by profession, has faithfully reported on the policies of the Kremlin for many years.

After graduating from the Russian Academy of National Economy in Moscow, this native of Odessa made a career in television. For several years she has been employed by Pervy Kanal (Channel One), the country’s main national broadcaster. A job she now says she regrets.

“I passed on the Kremlin propaganda”

“Unfortunately I have been working for Channel One for the past few years. I passed on the Kremlin propaganda and I am really ashamed of it: I am ashamed that lies were being told on television screens. Ashamed of the . to have allowed zombification of the Russian people. Go demonstrate. Don’t be afraid of anything. They can’t lock us all up,” she defended. in a pre-recorded video posted on social mediato justify his live action.

In the same series, the 44-year-old editor quickly explains why this war affects her so deeply. His family history is no stranger: “My father is Ukrainian, my mother is Russian and they have never been enemies,” she breathes. “Our brotherly peoples can still be reconciled,” she continues.

“A Heroine”

Since Monday, his pacifist appearance on television has earned him a shower of praise and support from around the world. Her Facebook page, with free access, is filled with posts describing her as a modern day “heroine”, with “exemplary courage”. In addition to her media activity, this mother of two describes herself on the same page as an outstanding sportswoman, tireless runner and “swimmer”. She is said to have visited the basins from an early age, before pursuing her passion by exploring the Volga in Russia and the Bosphorus, near Turkey. Marina Ovsiannikova still turns out to be a travel enthusiast, she has crossed Italy, France, Austria and even Argentina.

After this incident, it is hard to imagine that this television employee’s life can go on without consequences. Since her appearance on television, calls to protect her from Russian repression have increased. Leonid Volkov, close to opponent Alexei Navalny, assured on Twitter that his movement would even be “willing to pay any fine” imposed on Marina Ovsiannikova, as well as any “other employee of the chain who would do the same”. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, offers “consular protection” to the journalist this Tuesday. What can see the birth of other disputes?