An employee of Channel One of the Russian state television interrupted the main news program of the channel with an unusual protest against the invasion of Vladimir Putin Ukraine.
Marina Ovsyannikova, the editor of Channel One, took to the website of the evening news broadcast on Monday evening, shouting: “Stop the war. No to war.”
She also carried a sign that read: “Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here.” Signed in English: “Ross Against War”.
The news anchor continued reading louder than her teleprompter in an attempt to drown out Ovsyannikova, but her protest could be seen and heard for several seconds before the channel switched to a standard clip.
Ovsyannikova also released a pre-recorded video on her social media channels in which she expressed her shyness to work on Channel One and spread “Kremlin propaganda”.
“Unfortunately, I worked on Channel One for several years and worked in the Kremlin propagandist, I am very ashamed of this now. I was ashamed that I was allowed to lie on TV. I am ashamed that I allowed the zombies of the Russian people. We were silent in 2014 when this was initially. No We go out to protest when the Kremlin is poisoned [opposition leader Alexander] Navalny said.
We are just silently observing this anti-human regime. Now the whole world has turned away from us and the next ten generations will not be able to shake off the shame of this fratricidal war.”
Wearing a blue and yellow Ukrainian flag necklace, Ovsyannikova said in a video statement that her father is Ukrainian and her mother is Russian.
“What is happening in Ukraine is a crime, and Russia is the aggressor,” she said. “The responsibility for this aggression lies with only one person: Vladimir Putin.”
She urged her fellow Russians to join the anti-war protests in order to end the conflict. “Only we have the strength to stop all this madness. Go to protests. Don’t be afraid of anything. They can’t imprison us all.”
Human rights organization OVD-Info said Ovsyannikova was arrested shortly after her protest and was being held in a Moscow police station.
She could face imprisonment under new Russian legislation that criminalizes the dissemination of so-called “fake news” about the Russian military. Those found guilty under the law can face up to 15 years in prison.
Ovsyannikova may also face legal consequences for encouraging “civil unrest” by asking Russians to protest.
Channel One said, in a statement published by the state news agency TASS, that “an incident occurred with the shooting of a strange woman. An internal examination is being conducted.”
A law enforcement source told TASS that Ovsyannikova could be charged under a law prohibiting public actions aimed at “discrediting the use of the Russian armed forces.”
Her statement is the first time an employee of Russian state media has publicly denounced the war as the country continues its crackdown on the anti-war opposition. The current wave of censorship is so strict that other news programs have overshadowed the message on Ovsyannikova’s banner in their own reports of the incident.
State television is the main source of news for many millions of Russians, closely following the line of the Kremlin.
Within hours of her protest, thousands of people liked the Facebook post where she posted her statement, and the video of the incident quickly garnered thousands of views.
“Wow, that girl is awesome,” Kira Yarmesh, a spokeswoman for imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, tweeted.
“Professional web geek. Alcohol fan. Devoted zombie trailblazer. Certified social media lover. Amateur creator. Friendly food nerd.”