Lawyers for Russian journalist who staged anti-war protest on TV say they cannot find her
Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at state-controlled Channel 1, was detained after she ran on to the set on Monday holding an anti-war sign
Lawyers for the Russian journalist who burst onto a live TV news programme to stage an extraordinary protest against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine have said they cannot find her.
Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at state-controlled Channel 1, was detained after she ran on to the set on Monday holding an anti-war sign that read: "No war, stop the war, don't believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here."
The news anchor continued to read from her teleprompter while speaking louder in an attempt to drown out Ovsyannikova, but her protest could be seen and heard for several seconds before the channel switched to a recorded segment.
Ms Ovsyannikova's lawyers say they have been searching for their client since she was detained but have been unable to find her.
One of them, Anastasia Kostanova, said she "spent the whole night looking" for the missing journalist.
She told BBC Russian she had been trying to reach Ms Ovsyannikova by phone but her calls had gone unanswered.
"This means that they are hiding her from her lawyers and trying to deprive her of legal assistance and, apparently, they are trying to prepare the most stringent prosecution," Ms Kostanova said.
Another lawyer, Pavel Chikov, posted on Twitter that he was unable find Ms Ovsyannikova.
"Marina Ovsyannikova has not yet been found. She has been imprisoned for more than 12 hours," he said..
A new criminal law bans calling Russia's military action in Ukraine an "invasion" or spreading "fake news" about the conflict.
Though the strictest punishments carry a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years, lawyers for Ms Ovsyannikova say she would likely to be fined 30,000 to 60,000 roubles (€246 - €290).
Before her protest, Ovsyannikova also released a pre-recorded video via the OVD-Info human rights group in which she expressed her shame at working for Channel One and spreading “Kremlin propaganda.”
“Regrettably, for a number of years, I worked on Channel One and worked on Kremlin propaganda, I am very ashamed of this right now," she had saiad.
"Ashamed that I was allowed to tell lies from the television screen. Ashamed that I allowed the zombification of the Russian people. We were silent in 2014 when this was just beginning. We did not go out to protest when the Kremlin poisoned [opposition leader Alexei] Navalny,” she said.
“We are just silently watching this anti-human regime. And now the whole world has turned away from us and the next 10 generations won’t be able to clean themselves from the shame of this fratricidal war.”
Wearing a necklace in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag, Ovsyannikova said in her video statement that her father is Ukrainian and her mother is Russian.
“What is happening in Ukraine is a crime and Russia is the aggressor,” she said. “The responsibility of this aggression lies on the shoulders of only one person: Vladimir Putin.”
She urged fellow Russians to join anti-war protests in order to bring an end to the conflict. “Only we have the power to stop all this madness. Go to the protests. Don’t be afraid of anything. They can’t imprison us all.”
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy applauded the protest in a video address on Monday night
He said: “I’m thankful to those Russians who don’t stop trying to deliver the truth, who are fighting against disinformation and tell real facts to their friends and families, and personally to that woman who went in the studio of Channel One with an anti-war poster.”
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