Marina Ovsyannikova, a former Russian state TV journalist, has been sentenced to eight years and six months in prison for protesting Russia’s war in Ukraine. Ovsyannikova was convicted of spreading false information about the Russian army, a charge that falls under a law adopted by Russia’s parliament last year in response to the Ukrainian invasion. The ruling also includes banning Ovsyannikova from engaging with electronic media, including the internet, for four years. The sentencing was conducted in absentia, as Ovsyannikova’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
Ovsyannikova gained attention in March 2022 when she interrupted a news broadcast at Channel One TV station, where she worked at the time. She shouted, “Stop the war, no to war,” and held a sign that read, “Don’t believe the propaganda; they’re lying to you here.” Following the incident, she was charged with disparaging the Russian military and fined over $280. Ovsyannikova subsequently quit her job at the television station.
In response to Ovsyannikova’s protest and other incidents, Russia’s parliament passed a law imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading “fake” news about the military. Since then, numerous Russians have been detained and fined under this law. Many journalists and former government officials, including Ovsyannikova, have fled the country out of fear of prosecution.
Notably, opposition politician Ilya Yashin was also sentenced to eight years and six months in prison for allegedly spreading false information, while Vladimir Kara-Murza received a 25-year prison sentence. The Human Rights Council reports that thousands of Russians have faced charges and fines under the law.
Ovsyannikova and her daughter fled Russia last year after evading house arrest.