Marina Ovsyannikova, a producer of Russia’s state-run Channel One who was arrested after protesting the Ukraine invasion in the middle of a live broadcast last week, explained her “spontaneous decision” to crash a broadcast with an anti-war sign during an interview on ABC News on Sunday.
Prior to her protest during a live state television news broadcast in Russia, Ovsyannikova worked for the channel as an editor. Ovsyannikova pre-recorded a video before she stormed her former employer’s broadcast, in which she said she was “deeply ashamed” to have aired “Kremlin propaganda.” After her protest, Ovsyannikova was arrested and a Russian court ruled that she was guilty of organizing an “unauthorized public event,” and gave her a fine of 30,000 rubles (which is around $280 USD). Ovsyannikova could still face up to 15 years in prison under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s newly enacted censorship law.
Appearing on ABC News in her first American broadcast interview, Ovsyannikova explained her “spontaneous decision” to protest what she described as “Putin’s war” on air. Ovsyannikova stressed that a majority of Russians are against the war on Ukraine.
“This protest, you know, was a spontaneous decision for me, to go out live on air,” Ovsyannikova said in translated remarks. “But the dissatisfaction with the current situation has been accumulating for many years because the propaganda on our state channels was becoming more and more distorted. And the pressure that has been applied in the Russian politics could not leave us indifferent.”
Ovsyannikova said her friends and colleagues are in disbelief over Russia’s “gruesome war” on Ukraine. Ovsyannikova recalled being restless as soon as the war began.
“I could not eat. I could not sleep. I came to work and, after a week of coverage of this situation, the atmosphere on the channel was so unpleasant that I realized that I could not go back there,” Ovsyannikova said in translated remarks. “I could see what in reality was happening in Ukraine. And what we showed on our programs was very different from what was going on in reality.”
Ovsyannikova said she first participated in protests at Manezhnaya Square in Moscow, but that her mind changed once Putin’s anti-censorship law was implemented, with protesters being dragged away from protests and thrown in jail.
Ovsyannikova then decided that her protest during a broadcast on Russia’s state-run TV news channel would be “more meaningful with more impact.”
“I could attract more attention to this and I could show to the rest of the world that Russians are against the war. And I could show to the Russian people that this is just propaganda, expose this propaganda for what it is and maybe stimulate some people to speak up against the war,” Ovsyannikova said in translated remarks. “And I was hoping that my performance in a way would help people change their mind.”
Watch Ovsyannikova’s remarks below: