Russian authorities on Wednesday raided the home of a former state TV journalist who quit after making an on-air protest against Moscow’s war in Ukraine. They also launched a criminal case against her on the charge of spreading “false information” about the Russian armed forces, her lawyer said on social media.
The case against Marina Ovsyannikova was launched under a law enacted after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine that penalizes statements against the military, lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov said. A conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Zakhvatov told the independent news site Meduza that the case is likely linked to a protest Ovsyannikova staged last month, holding a banner that said “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists.”
He said on Telegram that after the raid Ovsyannikova is expected to be brought into the Investigative Committee for questioning.
Ovsyannikova used to work as a producer with Russian state-funded Channel One. She made international headlines on March 14, when she appeared behind the anchor of an evening news broadcast holding a poster that said “stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.”
She was charged with disparaging the Russian military and fined 30,000 rubles ($270 at the time).
After quitting her job, Ovsyannikova became something of an activist, staging antiwar pickets and speaking out publicly against the conflict.
She was fined two more times in recent weeks for disparaging the military in a critical Facebook post and comments she made at a court where opposition figure Ilya Yashin was remanded into custody pending trial on spreading false information about the military.
According to Net Freedoms, a legal aid group focusing on free speech cases, as of Wednesday there were 79 criminal cases on charges of spreading false information about the military and up to 4,000 administrative cases on charges of disparaging the armed forces.