Russian journalist fined after on-air protest

15 March 2022
Marina Ovsyannikova has been fined after disrupting state broadcaster Channel One’s prime time news show by holding a sign saying “No War”.
Marina Ovsyannikova holding a
Marina Ovsyannikova walked out during a news programme on Channel One holding a "No War" sign. Source: Twitter

Ms Ovsyannikova – who works as an editor at Channel One – appeared in court on Tuesday, and was given a 30,000 rouble (£214) fine.

What did she do? As the Channel One news anchor is speaking during Monday’s Vremya (Time) news show, Ms Ovsyannikova moves into the shot, holding a sign saying “No War. Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they’re lying to you [in Russian]. Russians against war.” After a few seconds, the director quickly cuts away. In a separate video she recorded herself, Ms Ovsyannikova called on Russians to come out and protest against the war.

Her fine relates to the pre-recorded video message, and she was charged with organising an unauthorised public event. She has pleaded not guilty, and has been released. It is feared she could also face additional charges according to the new ‘fake news’ law which imposes fines and jail sentences for spreading ‘fake news’ related to the military action in Ukraine.

Channel One is a state broadcaster, known for towing a scrupulously managed editorial agenda, directed by the Kremlin. Critical voices are not given a platform on such shows, and dissent is often punished. According to the human-rights media organisation OVD-Info, almost 15,000 anti-war protestors have been arrested across Russia since the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

It is reported a number of staff members at Russian state TV have also handed in their resignation, due to their dissatisfaction with the way the war is being presented and fed back to the Russian public.

The verdict faced by Ms Ovsyannikova is symptomatic of the dire state of media freedom in Russia, limiting the ability of its citizens to access independent and critical news and information.

Invasion of Ukraine

It is now evident journalists are coming under serious pressure and safety threats both in Russia and in Ukraine. A number of media workers have now been killed. Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra Kuvshnyova and American Fox News cameraperson, Pierre Zakrzewski were confirmed to have been killed today by Russian artillery. Brent Renaud – American filmmaker – was killed on Sunday.

During times of conflict, international and domestic journalists are the world’s eyes, bearing witness and shining a light on those most affected by it. Every death is unacceptable.

The Public Media Alliance deplores the perilous situation facing journalists in Russia and Ukraine. Journalists must be protected.

Featured image: Marina Ovsyannikova walked out during a news programme on Channel One holding a “No War” sign. Source: Twitter