Marina Ovsyannikova staged a protest on live state-run TV (Picture: AFP/GETTY)
A Russian journalist who staged an on-air protest against the war in Ukraine has been sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in absentia.
Marina Ovsyannikova captured the world’s attention when she stormed into a TV studio during a live broadcast with a placard that read ‘Stop the war’ and ‘Do not believe propaganda’ just days after the start of the full-scale invasion.
A Moscow court fined her 30,000 roubles for the protest at the state-run Channel One TV station.
But the 45-year-old later faced criminal prosecution for ‘spreading knowingly false information about the Russian Armed Forces’ in connection with another incident in July 2022.
Ms Ovsyannikova stood on a river embankment opposite the Kremlin, holding up a poster calling president Vladimir Putin a murderer and his soldiers fascists.
‘How many more children must die before you will stop?’ it read.
Last year, she fled Russia with her daughter after fleeing from house arrest, saying she had no case to answer.
The case against her was brought under laws passed soon after Russia’s invasion that made it a crime to ‘discredit’ the armed forces or spread false information about them.
Ms Ovsyannikova fled to France with her daughter (Picture: AP)
In a statement on Telegram, Ms Ovsyannikova called the criminal charges against her ‘absurd and politically motivated’.
She said the court gave her a ‘demonstrative spanking’ for not being afraid to call ‘a spade a spade’.
‘Of course, I do not admit my guilt. And I do not go back on a single word. I have made a very difficult, but the only correct moral choice in my life and have already paid a fairly high price for it,’ she added.
‘The punishment for me was exile. Life in a foreign country, without family, friends, home, work, and most importantly – without the opportunity to return to my homeland and hug my loved ones.
She called the criminal charges against her ‘absurd’ (Picture: AFP)
‘Sometimes I ask myself – could I have remained silent? No, I couldn’t. To remain silent at the moment of aggression means to become an accomplice to the crime.
‘I know what war is. As a child, I experienced the same thing that Ukrainians are experiencing now.
‘My house was razed to the ground during the First Chechen War.
‘Since then, I have hated war and believe that people are not bargaining chips on a chessboard and every human life is priceless.
‘Because of my anti-war position in Russia they call me a traitor. They say that in any situation you must be together with your country and with your people. But I am not a traitor, I am a patriot of my country. I love Russia.’
Ms Ovsyannikova further lashed out at the Kremlin, blasting Vladimir Putin and his allies the ‘real traitors’
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