Standing up to Putin. Russian anti-war journalist has fled house arrest

Lee Heidhues 10.5.2022

It’s takes a lot of guts for a journalist to stand up to war mongering thug dictator Vladimir Putin.

There is no freedom of the press in Russia where the media is nothing more than a State owned subsidiary of Putin.

Marina Ovsyannikova says she refuses to comply with a restraint order because she is ‘completely innocent’.

The Guardian 10.5.2022

Marina Ovsyannikova, the former state TV editor who interrupted a news broadcast to protest against the Ukraine war, has said she decided to escape house arrest because she was “innocent”.

“Put a tag like this on Putin,”  Ovsyannikova said, pointing to what appeared to be an electronic ankle tag. “It should be him, not me, who has to be isolated from society and prosecuted for committing genocide in Ukraine.”

On Monday, Russia put her on a wanted list after her ex-husband said she had escaped house arrest with her young daughter.

Ovsyannikova’s lawyer, Dmitry Zakhvatov, said she failed to attend a court hearing on Wednesday morning, which was held in absentia after investigators were not able to establish her location.

Marina Ovsyannikova I 10.5.2022
Marina Ovsyannikova in a Russian courtroom earlier this year.

“I consider myself completely innocent, and since our state refuses to comply with its own laws, I refuse to comply with the measure of restraint imposed on me as of 30 September 2022 and release myself from it,” Ovsyannikova said on Wednesday in a statement posted on her social media channels.

Ovsyannikova also published a short video from an undisclosed location, in which she criticised Vladimir Putin for the war in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian-born Ovsyannikova, 44, gained international attention in March after bursting into a studio of Channel One, her then employer, to denounce the Ukraine war during a live news bulletin, holding a poster reading “no war”. At the time, she was fined 30,000 roubles (£460) for ignoring protest laws.

Ovsyannikova continued protesting against the war after quitting her job at Channel One and was charged in August with spreading false information about the Russian army for holding up a poster that read “Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists” during a solo protest on the Moskva River embankment opposite the Kremlin. She was subsequently placed under house arrest in Moscow to await trial and was facing up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Russia has launched an unprecedented crackdown on protesters, independent news outlets and foreign social media networks. In early March, Putin signed off on a draconian law imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for spreading intentionally “fake” news about the military, in effect criminalising any public criticism of the war.