A Russian journalist who made headlines around the world with her anti-Ukraine war protest has been sentenced to eight years and six months in jail by the Kremlin.
Marina Ovsyannikova, 45, found global fame back in March 2022 when she barged through a news broadcast at Channel One TV station, a state-run channel where she worked at the time, shouting, “Stop the war, no to war,” and holding a sign that read, “Don’t believe the propaganda; they’re lying to you here.”
Following the protest and fearing reprisals, Ovsyannikova fled Russia with her 11-year-old daughter and is now believed to be living in Germany and working as a freelance reporter for German newspaper Die Welt.
Overnight a Kremlin court handed Ovsyannikova over eight years jail in absentia for spreading “fake news” about the Russian army.
“The court sentenced Ovsyannikova to eight years and six months’ imprisonment, to be served in a general regime penal colony,” the Moscow prosecutor’s office said.
The charge of “fake news” relates to a protest in July last year when she stood on a river embankment opposite the Kremlin and held up a poster calling President Vladimir Putin a murderer and his soldiers fascists.
On Tuesday, Ovsyannikova used social media to call the charges against her “absurd and politically motivated”.
“They decided to flog me for not being afraid and for calling things by their names,” she said.
“Of course, I do not admit my guilt. And I do not deny any of my words. I made a very hard, but the only right moral choice in my life, and I have already paid a high enough price for it,” she said.
Following Ovsyannikova’s protest, Russia’s parliament passed laws that imposed a jail term of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading “fake” news about the country’s military.
According to the Human Rights Council, thousands of Russians who are against the war have since been detained and fined under the law. A number of journalists and former government officials have been charged under the law and many, like Ovsyannikova, have fled the country fearing reprisals.