December 01, 2019

Televised Bravery


Televised Bravery

The primetime news on Channel One, hosted by the stone-faced Katerina Andreyeva, is the jewel in the crown of Russia's propaganda machine. But on Monday, the program was interrupted by a woman who yelled "Stop the war! No war!" and managed to show a giant sign saying, "Don't believe the propaganda! They are lying to you!" for several seconds before the camera turned off.

 

The bold action shocked and awed Russians, going instantly viral: very rarely does state television show any chinks in its armor (though some foreigners working for RT have quit live on air). Channel One news is Russia's most-watched channel and has what is considered the best coverage in the country, seen by millions of people.

The woman was quickly identified as Marina Ovsyannikova, who worked for the channel as an editor.

Prior to bursting into the studio, Ovsyannikova recorded a statement on video.

Here is the full text in English:

 

"What is happening right now in Ukraine is a crime, Russia is an aggressor country and the responsibility for this aggression is on just one person, and this person is Vladimir Putin. My father is Ukrainian, my mother is Russian, and they have never been enemies. This necklace I am wearing is a symbol -- Russia must immediately stop this fratricidal war and our brotherly nations can still find peace. Unfortunately, over the last years, I have been working on Channel One, I was involved in Kremlin propaganda, and I am now very ashamed. I am ashamed that I allowed lies to be told from TV screens, I am ashamed that I let them zombify Russian people. We were silent in 2014, when all of this was just starting, we did not protest when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny. We were just silently watching this inhuman regime, and now the entire world has turned away from us. Ten generations following our children will not be able to wash away the shame of this fratricidal war. We are Russian people, we are thinking and intelligent people, and only we can stop this madness. Go out to the streets, don't be afraid, they cannot put us all in jail."

In the atmosphere of fear and tightening repressions, where people are arrested even for holding a blank piece of paper, Ovsyannikova's action was praised by many as incredibly brave. Rights groups quickly dispatched lawyers to help her deal with the legal consequences of her protest. Her bold gesture will undoubtedly be remembered by many.

The Guardian newspaper's front page for Tuesday, March 15

On Tuesday, Ovsyannikova was fined for her protest, after what she described as a 14-hour-long interrogation. By Russian law, a person cannot be arrested on an administrative charge if they take care of minors (Ovsyannikova has two children). However, reports said the Russian Investigative Committee is also looking into charging her with a criminal offense, which could carry up to 10 years in prison.

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