Responding to the news that Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor on Russia’s state-controlled Channel One TV who interrupted a live news broadcast on Monday to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was arrested and held incommunicado for at least 15 hours after her show of dissent, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:
“The Russian authorities must immediately release Marina Ovsyannikova, who has been held by them after her courageous protest staged on live TV. No one should be detained solely for expressing their opinions, let alone be kept without contact with the outside world. She must face no reprisals for bravely exercising her right to freedom of expression.
“Marina Ovsyannikova has shown that the courage to stand up for justice remains stronger than the state’s propaganda — even among those employed to broadcast it. She has given a striking example of how far people are willing to go to speak truth to power amid the brutal repression seen in today’s Russia.
“The Kremlin, which continues to criminalise all forms of dissent and anti-war protest, remains hellbent on hiding the human cost of its possible war crimes committed in Ukraine. Marina Ovsyannikova committed no crime. Her defiant protest shines a light where the Russian authorities have attempted to impose total darkness.”
“No one should be detained solely for expressing their opinions, let alone be kept without contact with the outside world before being brought to court to be tried on spurious charges. Marina Ovsyannikova must be immediately released and face no further reprisals.
On 14 March, Marina Ovsyannikova burst onto a live news program holding a sign that said “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here”. She also shouted “stop the war!”
According to OVD-Info, a police watchdog NGO in Russia, she was quickly arrested and taken away. Overnight, the police provided no details about her fate and whereabouts, including whether or not she was in detention. On 15 March, Russian media reported that she had been accused of “organization of an unauthorized public event.” Russian media also reported that the authorities are considering opening a criminal investigation against her.