EXCLUSIVE State TV protester tells Russians: Open your eyes to Ukrainian war propaganda

LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) – A Russian woman who burst into a state television studio to denounce the war in Ukraine during a live newscast told Reuters on Wednesday she feared for her safety and hoped his demonstration would open Russians’ eyes to propaganda.

In her first TV interview since her on-air protest on Monday, Marina Ovsyannikova said the harrowing images from Ukraine jolted her own childhood memories of growing up in Chechnya, the war-torn southern region after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

“I absolutely don’t feel like a hero… You know, I really want to feel like this sacrifice wasn’t in vain and people are going to open their eyes,” the Channel editor said One to Reuters from Russia.

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“I believe in what I’ve done but now I understand the scale of the problems I’m going to have to face and, of course, I’m extremely worried about my safety,” Ovsyannikova said.

Thousands of Russians were arrested for taking to the streets to protest the war, but Ovsyannikova went further, waving an anti-propaganda sign behind a studio presenter reading the prime-time news and shouting anti-slogans. -war.

State television is a vital platform for the Kremlin, which describes the invasion as a “special military operation” essential to prevent what it calls genocide against Russian speakers.

Ukraine and the West reject this justification as a false pretext for an invasion of a sovereign country.

“The worst thing is when Ukrainians call Russians and Russians call Ukrainians, there is always a conflict because the media and propaganda have divided us and put us on opposite sides on the barricades,” he said. said Ovsyannikova.

The 43-year-old, whose father was Ukrainian, said she had no intention of leaving Russia.

She told Reuters she was detained at a police station and questioned overnight and only had access to a lawyer the following afternoon when she was brought to trial and sentenced. to a fine of 30,000 rubles ($280).

The Kremlin called his act of protest “hooliganism” and praised Channel One for its media coverage. Read more

Marina Ovsyannikova, a Channel One employee who staged a live protest as she held an anti-war placard behind a studio presenter, speaks to the media as she leaves the court building in Moscow, Russia , March 15, 2022 on this still image taken from a video. REUTERS Television via REUTERS

Reuters filed a written request on Wednesday asking the Home Office for further comment on his case and whether the legal proceedings had been closed.

Her case has raised fears among her supporters that she could be prosecuted under new legislation criminalizing actions that discredit the Russian military with a prison term of up to 15 years.

Ovsyannikova, a mother of children aged 11 and 17, said she hoped not to face criminal charges.

“If I end up having to serve jail time for what I believe in, hopefully it will be a minimum sentence,” she said.

MEMORIES FROM CHECHNYA

Ovsyannikova said she initially supported President Vladimir Putin, but became disillusioned with politics and the war in Ukraine first reduced her to a state of shock and then tipped her over the edge.

“The war in Ukraine was like a trigger for me. Very vivid images of my childhood (in Chechnya) came back in full force. I understood… I could feel what those unfortunate people (in Ukraine) were going through. really unbearable,” she said.

As a child, she lived in Grozny in Chechnya and remembers gathering her belongings and suddenly having to leave in 1991 the region of southern Russia where the Russian army then fought two wars to suppress a separatist and Islamist movement.

“There were bombings, I was 12, we picked up our things and left,” she says.

She first considered going to a square near the Kremlin to protest, but concluded that it would have little real effect.

She said she not only wanted to protest the war, but also send a message directly to the Russians:

“Don’t be such zombies; don’t listen to this propaganda; learn to analyze information; learn to find other sources of information – not just Russian state television.”

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Reuters reporting; edited by Guy Faulconbridge, Mark Trevelyan and Angus MacSwan

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