London — An employee of a state-owned TV channel in Russia burst onto the set of its nightly news broadcast on Monday with a sign that said: "Stop the war. Don't believe propaganda. You are being lied to here." The event lasted only a few seconds before the channel switched to a prerecorded story.
A Russian human rights group identified the employee as Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor and producer at Channel One. They said she had been detained by Russian authorities after her protest. On Tuesday, she was fined the equivalent of around $280 and released. She told journalists she had gone two days without sleep, and been questioned for 14 hours without legal representation or the chance to call her loved ones.
Before Ovsyannikova walked onto the news set with her sign, she recorded a video message that was released online.
"Unfortunately, for the last two years, I have been working at Channel One, and I am deeply ashamed about that right now," Ovsyannikova said in the video. "I am ashamed that I've allowed people to lie from TV screens. I am ashamed that I let the Russian people be zombified. We were silent in 2014, when all of this was just starting. We did not protest when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny. We were watching the anti-human regime silently. And now the whole world has turned its back on us. Ten generations of our descendants will not be able to wash off the shame of this fratricidal war."
Mostoutlets are affiliated with the state and parrot the Russian government's justification for the , falsely claiming that it is working to liberate the country from "neo-Nazis." Independent news outlets have largely been shuttered in Russia and their journalists forced to stop working, or flee the country.
Russiaunder which anyone it deems to have spread "false" information on the war in Ukraine can face up to 15 years in prison. Even calling the war a war, or using the word "invasion" are banned under the law. It was implemented as anti-war protests across the country resulted in at least 15,000 people being arrested.
"Marina is facing incredible risks to her life, her safety, her future," Julia Davis, a Russian media analyst and columnist for the Daily Beast, told CBS News' Debora Patta. "She knew that, and she willingly took that risk… My hat is off to her."
"The Russian people can think, and are smart. Only we can stop this insanity," Ovsyannikova said in her online video message. "Go outside and protest. Do not be afraid. They can't jail us all."
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