The fearless Russian journalist arrested for disrupting a live television broadcast said she was left with no choice but to speak out against President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I have been feeling a cognitive dissonance, more and more, between my beliefs and what we say on air,” Marina Ovsyannikova said during an interview with CNN on Wednesday. “The war was the point of no return, when it was simply impossible to stay silent.”
Now widely hailed as a hero for her bravery, Ovsyannikova, an editor at the state television’s flagship Channel 1 News, added her actions were all the more necessary because so many citizens are so easily brainwashed by the Kremlin’s propaganda.
“I worry about Russian soldiers,” she noted. “I think they really don’t understand why they have to do this, why they [are] fighting.”
On Monday, Ovsyannikova busted into the Channel 1 Newsroom, shouting anti-war sentiments and waving a sign in protest of Putin’s war in Ukraine.
“Stop the war,” and “No to war!” she screamed out.
She continued even as the news anchor moved forward with her broadcast, rapidly increasing volume in a bid to drown out her co-worker’s rally cries.
“Don’t believe the propaganda,” it read in Russian. “They’re lying to you here.”
It was also signed in English: “Russians against war.”
In the end, the broadcast was cut, and a pre-recorded segment was instead played on air.
Ovsyannikova said she planned the protest by herself and that she did not initially anticipate getting so close to the news anchor, but wanted to ensure her message was received. She added she was “afraid until the last minute.”
Following her bold stand against the government, Ovsyannikova was taken into custody and then seemingly vanished for 12 hours. No one heard from her again until the following day, when she made an appearance in a Moscow courtroom, where was found guilty of organizing an “unauthorized public event” and ordered to pay a fine of 30,000 rubles or about $280.
The decision hinged primarily on a video recorded and shared by Ovsyannikova before her one-man protest.
“What is happening now in Ukraine is a crime, and Russia is the aggressor country, and the responsibility for this aggression lies on the conscience of only one person,” she said. “This man is Vladimir Putin.”
Ovsyannikova in the clip also reflected on regret she has for the years she’s spent pushing propaganda with Channel 1.
“I have been working on Channel One and doing Kremlin propaganda, and now I am very ashamed of it,” she said in the video. “It’s a shame that I allowed to speak lies from the TV screens, ashamed that I allowed to zombify Russian people.”