Russian TV journalist fined over Ukraine comments

A Moscow court ordered Marina Ovsyannikova to pay a fine for discrediting the Russian army over its actions in Ukraine.

Marina Ovsyannikova
Former Russian state TV employee Marina Ovsyannikova first shot to prominence after she staged an anti-war protest on live state television [Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters]

A Moscow court ordered journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who denounced Russia’s intervention in Ukraine during a live TV broadcast, to pay a fine for discrediting the Russian army.

Moscow’s Meshchansky district court said on Thursday that Ovsyannikova, a former editor at state-controlled Channel One, should pay a fine of 50,000 roubles ($806).

“The evidence confirms Ovsyannikova’s guilt. There is no reason to doubt its authenticity,” the judge said.

Ovsyannikova rejected the proceedings against her as “absurd”.

Thursday’s hearing was over social media posts in which she wrote that those responsible for Russia’s actions in Ukraine would find themselves in the dock before an international tribunal.

Her lawyer, Dmitry Zakhvatov, said she was fined for speaking out against Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine earlier this month when she turned up at Moscow’s Basmanny district court to support city councillor Ilya Yashin.

In mid-July, Yashin, one of the last prominent opposition figures still in Russia, was placed in pre-trial detention for two months for having denounced Moscow’s Ukraine offensive.

‘War is horror’

Ovsyannikova, a 44-year-old mother of two, was briefly detained earlier this month.

Her detention came several days after she demonstrated alone near the Kremlin, holding up a sign criticising the military intervention in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zakhvatov said the journalist was now in Russia and had no immediate plans to leave.

In March, Ovsyannikova shot to prominence for interrupting a live TV broadcast to denounce Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, for which she was fined 30,000 roubles ($484).

After sending troops to Ukraine for what it calls a “special military operation” against Ukraine, Moscow adopted laws imposing sentences of up to 15 years in prison for spreading information about the military deemed false by the authorities.

In court, Ovsyannikova repeated her protest and said she would not retract her words. She said she did not understand why she was there and what she was being judged for.

“What’s going on here is absurd,” she said. “War is horror, blood and shame.”

She went on: “Your accusations are like accusing me of spreading monkeypox,” she said. “The purpose of the trial is to intimidate all the people who oppose the war in the Russian Federation.”

She described Russia as an aggressor country, saying: “The beginning of this war is the biggest crime of our government.”

A lawyer for Ovsyannikova said she had the right to speak out under Article 29 of the Russian constitution, which protects the right to freedom of expression, but the judge dismissed the lawyer’s arguments.

Russian authorities have not announced the opening of any criminal investigation against Ovsyannikova.

In the months following her March protest, Ovsyannikova spent time abroad, working for Germany’s Die Welt.

In early July, she announced that she was returning to Russia to settle a dispute over the custody of her two children.

Source: News Agencies