On Wednesday, Russian security services raided the home of Marina Ovsyannikova, a former editor-in-chief of state broadcaster Channel One, who denounced Moscow’s war on Ukraine during a live TV broadcast, said the human rights group OVD-Info.
According to Dmitry Zakhvatov, an OVD-Info lawyer assisting Ovsyannikova, Russian security forces broke down the door of her house, without waiting for her legal representative to arrive. Zakhvatov said Ovsyannikova is brought before the Investigative Commission of the Russian Federation, a powerful federal body comparable to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States.
Zakhvatov said Russian authorities had initiated criminal proceedings over accusations of spreading false information about the country’s armed forces, under a new law passed by the Kremlin after the war. The maximum penalty is 15 years in prison.
It’s unclear whether Ovsyannikova herself is facing charges related to the raid, and POLITICO could not reach her for comment.
Ovsyannikova caught international attention in March when she crashed on the set of the evening newscast, Vremya, wearing a necklace in the colors of the Ukrainian and Russian flags and holding up an anti-war poster. She paid a fine of 30,000 rubles (at the time, around €250) in connection with her protest, but her lawyers said she could face other charges later.
After being fined, Ovsyannikova fled Russia and was hired by German newspaper Die Welt (owned by POLITICO parent company Axel Springer). But she then returned to Russia to fight a parental custody battle, she said on social media. She continued to criticize the war.
Over the past two weeks, Russian courts have ordered Ovsyannikova to pay two additional fines for discrediting the country’s military in her social media posts. She was also briefly detained in mid-July. At that time, his attorney did not rule out the possibility of a criminal investigation.
Since the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has suppressed protests and criticism of the war. Growing restrictions have forced Russian journalists to flee the country. Western reporters have also been banned from entering Russia.
Florian Eder contributed reporting.