Russian security services raid former state TV journalist’s house over Ukraine war criticism

·2 min read

The home of a former Russian state TV journalist was raided by the authorities on Wednesday over her criticism of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, her lawyer has said.

Marina Ovsyannikova, who worked until March as a producer for the Kremlin-funded Channel One, is currently facing criminal charges for her opposition to the war, according to her representative Dmitry Zakhvatov.

If she is convicted under a new law which criminalises speaking out against Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, the 44-year-old could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Mr Zakhvatov told the independent news website Meduza that he believes the case is connected to a protest Ms Ovsyannikova staged last month, in which she carried a sign calling Putin a “killer” and his troops “fascists”.

She first made international headlines when she interrupted an evening news broadcast on 14 March, holding a poster which read “stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here”.

Ms Ovsyannikova initially fled to Germany, before returning to Russia so that she could fight a parental custody battle.

The journalist received a 30,000 roubles (£400) fine for her first public protest, and has subsequently received further penalties for her anti-war campaigning.

The mother-of-two was recently given a 40,000-rouble (£533) fine for a social media post about the Russian army, Mr Zakhvatov said.

“I go to the courts like I go to work,” Ms Ovsyannikova said earlier this week.

“I could not express my gratitude to Putin on behalf of 30 million Russians who live in the 21st century without sewers and warm toilets,” she added.

The legal aid group Net Freedom estimates that there are currently 79 criminal cases like Mr Ovsyannikova’s going through the Russian courts.