Russian journalist interrupts live TV state media broadcast with 'no war' protest

Journalist Marina Ovsyannikova could face up to 15 years behind bars for her protest, reports ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger

A Russian state media employee interrupted a news broadcast live on air to protest against the invasion of Ukraine. Channel One editor Marina Ovsyannikova ran on to the set of the network's live nightly news show on Monday evening, shouting: “Stop the war. No to war.” The journalist, who has a Ukrainian father and Russian mother, held a sign saying: “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here.”

The poster was signed in English: “Russians against the war”.

The news reader continued reading before the channel took the camera off Ms Ovsyannikova's protest.

Before her live protest, Ms Ovsyannikova released a pre-recorded video on her social media page where she said she was ashamed of working for Channel One and spreading "Kremlin propaganda".

Channel One is one of the biggest news programmes in Russia and is seen by millions of people each day.

“Regrettably, for a number of years, I worked on Channel One and worked on Kremlin propaganda, I am very ashamed of this right now. Ashamed that I was allowed to tell lies from the television screen. Ashamed that I allowed the zombification of Russian people", she said, speaking in Russian.

"We were silent in 2014 when this was just beginning. We did not go out to protest when the Kremlin poisoned [Russian politician and opposition leader Alexei] Navalny,” she said. “We are just silently watching this anti-human regime. And now the whole world has turned away from us and the next 10 generations won’t be able to clean themselves from the shame of this fratricidal war.”

Ms Ovsyannikova wore a blue and yellow necklace - the colours of the Ukrainian flag but also a blend of the Ukrainian and Russian colours, reflecting her dual heritage - in her video statement.

She described Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "crime" and called Russia "the aggressor", before taking aim at the country's president. "The responsibility of this aggression lies on the shoulders of only one person: Vladimir Putin”.

The Channel One journalist urged Russians to join anti-war protests to end the invasion.

"Only we have the power to stop all this madness. Go to the protests. Don’t be afraid of anything. They can’t imprison us all", she said.

Ms Ovsyannikova was arrested shortly after her protest and was being held in a police station in Moscow, according to human rights group OVD-Info. In a statement published by the state news agency TASS, Channel One said that “an incident took place with an extraneous woman in shot. An internal check is being carried out”.

Professor Cynthia Hooper, director of Russian and Eastern European Studies at the College of the Holy Cross, says President Putin is "pulling all the stops to maintain a monopoly on information" in Russia.

"He is pulling all the stops to maintain a monopoly on information"

Speaking to ITV News, she said: "A lot of people...are suggesting that the Russian population is brainwashed and believes the official propaganda.

"I think some do support Putin but I think there is huge skepticism in Russia about the content of state media and there always has been.

"There is a lot of skepticism about Western news too and it is taking a little bit of time for people to accept that a tragedy is happening in Ukraine and that Russia is culpable in atrocities," she added.

Monday's incident is the first time a Russian state media employee has publicly criticised the war in Ukraine.

Her comments come after Russia introduced a new law banning the spreading of "fake news", meaning Ms Ovsyannikova could face up to 15 years in prison in found guilty.