Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova (file photo)
MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow has placed TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova under house arrest on a charge of distributing false information about Russia’s armed forces.
The Basmanny district court in the Russian capital announced the decision on August 11, one day after Ovsyannikova’s home was searched and she was detained. Ovsyannikova's lawyer, Dmitry Zakhvatov, said on August 10 that his client was charged with "public distributing false information about Russian armed forces" and may face 10 years in prison if convicted. Ovsyannikova, known for delivering a live on-air anti-war protest in March, wrote on Telegram that the charge filed on August 10 stems from her one-person protest in front of the Kremlin in early July in which she held a poster saying "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists" and displayed photos of children killed in Ukraine.
Last week, a court in Moscow fined Ovsyannikova 50,000 rubles ($820) for that protest. Ovsyannikova gained international recognition on March 14 when she burst onto the set of Channel One's Vremya news program holding a poster reading: “Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you” in Russian. She also shouted: "Stop the war. No to war."
Ovsyannikova was a producer with Channel One at the time of her protest. She was later detained and fined 30,000 rubles ($490) by a court for calling for illegal protests.
Ovsyannikova resigned from Channel One and spent several months abroad, including in Ukraine, repeatedly expressing her condemnation of the war. On August 8, a court in Moscow ordered Ovsyannikova to pay a fine of 40,000 rubles ($660) for her latest online posts protesting the war in Ukraine. In March, Putin signed a law that provides for lengthy prison terms for distributing "deliberately false information" about Russian military operations as the Kremlin seeks to control the narrative about its war in Ukraine. The law envisages sentences of up to 10 years in prison for individuals convicted of an offense, while the penalty for the distribution of "deliberately false information" about the Russian Army that leads to "serious consequences" is 15 years in prison. It also makes it illegal "to make calls against the use of Russian troops to protect the interests of Russia" or "for discrediting such use" with a possible penalty of up to three years in prison. The same provision applies to calls for sanctions against Russia.