"She never talked about politics": Who is Russian TV employee who interrupted news broadcast
A little about Marina Ovsyannikova, who may be charged with a criminal offense for spreading intentionally "fake" news about the military.
As one of Ovsyannikova's acquaintances told me, for many years she worked as an editor in the international department in the directorate of information programs of Channel One. That is, she did not write the texts that went on air. Her job was to translate direct speech of foreign politicians, businessmen, cultural figures and ordinary people into Russian, as well as creating video reviews. We can say that she was a cog in a big machine of Channel One's news production.
Ovsyannikova's colleagues told me they are very surprised by her act, because they have never heard her talk about politics. “Mostly about children, dogs and the house,” recalls her friend.
On Monday, when Ovsyannikova burst into the air of The Vremya with an extraordinary anti-war protest, she was on shift. Which means she just came to work and was there at the appointed time.
The Vremya program is broadcast live three times a day. Usually it is guarded by several people. One of them usually sits a couple of meters from the host. Why this security guard was asleep at the wheel is unknown. Perhaps he did not react to Ovsyannikova since she is a long-term employee of the channel. Besides during the broadcast, make-up artists can always approach the host to fix their makeup, and the guard might not have recognized Ovsyannikova. Her colleagues nervously joke that no one else will be allowed to come to work with broadsheets anymore.
Ovsyannikova was fined 30,000 roubles ($280) on Tuesday, it was related to organising an unauthorised public event by publishing the video message. After the hearing she said she had been questioned for 14 hours and was not given access to legal help. There are still risks that a criminal case will be opened against Ovsyannikova related to her perfomance on air.
On Monday evening Marina Ovsyannikova interrupted one of the main news program on Russian TV, shouting: “Stop the war. No to war.” She also held a sign saying: “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here.”
It lasted only 5 seconds but social media exploded. Ovsyannikova also released a pre-recorded video in which she expressed her shame at spreading “Kremlin propaganda.”
“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 the Russian people. We were silent in 2014 when this was just beginning. We did not go out to protest when the Kremlin poisoned [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.”
“What is happening in Ukraine is a crime and Russia is the aggressor,” she said. “The responsibility of this aggression lies on the shoulders of only one person: Vladimir Putin.”
She urged fellow Russians to join anti-war protests in order to bring an end to the conflict. “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.”