A Russian court has fined Marina Ovsyannikova 30,000 roubles ($276) for violating protest laws after she broke onto a live news broadcast on Channel One in an extraordinary demonstration against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The move earned her plaudits from western leaders. Emmanuel Macron of France even offered her consular “protection” and said he would raise her case with Vladimir Putin.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman paid tribute to her bravery on Tuesday saying: “The PM wants to pay tribute to all of those in Russia standing up to Putin’s campaign of violence.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also praised Ms. Ovsyannikova’s actions.
Russian state TV regularly amplifies the Kremlin’s line that troops have entered Ukraine on a “special military operation” to save the country from “neo-Nazis.”
Ms. Ovsyannikova, who is a Channel One employee, held up a sign behind a studio presenter reading the news on Channel One on Monday night and shouted slogans condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In her first interview following her sentencing, the television editor told the media that she had endured one of the hardest days of her life, and needed to rest before giving more comments.
“I want to thank everyone for their support, friends and colleagues…It’s been a really difficult day in my life. I’ve gone two days without sleep, more than 14 hours in custody, they didn’t allow me to contact those close to me or to receive any legal counsel… so I found myself in a really tough situation.”
“It was my anti-war decision. I made this decision by myself because I don’t like Russia starting this invasion. It was really terrible,” she told the BBC as she left the courthouse.
“There are still risks that a criminal case will be opened against Ovsyannikova, but the chances of that have sharply decreased after the fine that she received today,” said Pavel Chikov, the head of Agora International Human Rights Group. “She has been fined not for her performance, but for her video message in which she urged people to protest.”
“No case has been opened yet against her performance, and the prosecutor’s office might still decide to do so,” he continued. “But, the fact that she has already received a quick punishment indicates that a political decision has been made not to persecute her further.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: GLOBALNEWS.CA