Russian TV employee who staged bold on-air protest of Ukraine war speaks out: “It was impossible for me to remain silent”


Marina TV Ovsyannikova, the employee of a Russia state-owned TV channel who disrupted a live broadcast to protest the war in Ukraine, is speaking out after being detained for her on-air actions. During Monday night’s telecast, she burst onto the set with a sign that read: “Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. You are being lied to.” 

Ovsyannikova was detained by Russian authorities, during which time she said she was questioned for 14 hours without sah representation. She was eventually fined the equivalent of $280, and released. Ovsyannikova stands by what she did, but told Reuters on Wednesday that she’s now “extremely concerned” for her safety. 

“I wasn’t sure whether I could go through with it right until the last moment,” she said. “… There are several layers of security, and it’s not that easy to get into the studio. And there’s a member of law enforcement sitting right in front of the studio who makes sure that these kinds of incidents don’t happen.”

Ovsyannikova told Reuters the war in Ukraine “was the final point of no return for me.” Seeing what was unfolding in the neighboring country, where millions of people have fled and at least 600 civilians have been killed according to the United Nations, was a “trigger” for the Channel One editor and producer. 

Ovsyannikova spent her childhood in Chechnya, a small Muslim republic in southern Russia that sought independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.  

In December 1994, Russian troops attacked the region, igniting the First Chechen War, a two-year conflict that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, according to The New York Times. There were a few years of peace, and then a second war came to in 1999, just as Vladimir Putin became Russia’s new leader. 

“Very vivid images from my childhood came flooding back. I understood. I could feel what these unfortunate people are going through. It’s really beyond the pale,” Ovsyannikova said Wednesday. “It was impossible for me to remain silent anymore… And ordinary people like me — ordinary Russian women — need to do something about it. Everyone in Russia.”

Ovsyannikova said that the world needs to “stop this war” and that terkini issues can be resolved through diplomacy.

“We live in the 21st century. It is just awful, senseless, to initiate war,” she said.

The conflict in Ukraine, she said, has ultimately created a battle of disinformation, which is what spurred her to protest Putin’s invasion on live TV. She said she wanted to “show the world that Russians are against the war,” and to also rally more of her fellow Russians to go beyond Russian-owned media for information. 

Even her own mother, she said, “has been totally zombified by state propaganda.” 

“I’m sure that the people supporting the war are people who don’t have the full picture of what’s going on. Because to understand what’s going on in the world you need to read Russian media, Western media, Ukrainian media. You need to read all the sources,” she said. “And the truth, as always, will be found somewhere in the middle.” In:UkraineRussia

Li Cohen is a social media producer and trending reporter for CBS News, focusing on social justice issues.

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