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Viewers of Russia’s Channel One witnessed a moment of pure bravery last night when one of its editors, Marina Ovsyannikova, gate-crashed the Monday evening news bulletin to protest against Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
Standing behind the channel’s news anchor, Ovsyannikova held up a sign reading: “No war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here,” before the broadcast cut away.
Ovsyannikova, who has two children and was born in Odessa, was promptly arrested and has been charged with “organising an unauthorised public event,” bringing with it a 30,000 ruble (£215) fine. But it’s possible she will be re-arrested and charged under the draconian “fake news” law which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Before her arrest she had pre-recorded a video explaining her defiant act. She is one of a growing number of Russians who are willing to speak out against the Kremlin’s war on a sovereign state.
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Here is Ovsyannikova’s full statement:
What is currently happening in Ukraine is a crime. Russia is a country-aggressor.
All responsibility for this aggression lies on the conscience of one person: Vladimir Putin. My father is Ukrainian, my mother is Russian. They were never enemies.
This necklace around my neck signifies that Russia should immediately stop this fratricidal war and our brotherly nations can make peace with each other.
Unfortunately, for the last several years I worked at Channel One, promoting Kremlin propaganda and for that I am very ashamed right now.
I am ashamed that I allowed lies to be told from TV screens, that I allowed Russian people to be zombified. We stayed quiet when all of this was just getting started in 2014.
We didn’t come out to protest when the Kremlin poisoned [Alexei] Navalny. We continued to quietly watch this inhumane regime.
Now the whole world turned away from us. Ten generations of our descendants won’t be able to wash away the shame of this fratricidal war.
We, the Russian people, are thoughtful and smart, only we have the power to stop all this madness. Come out to protests, fear nothing, they can’t jail us all.