By The Associated Press
Russian authorities arrested a former state television journalist who quit after protesting on air against Moscow’s war in Ukraine and charged her on Wednesday with spreading false information about Russia’s armed forces, according to her lawyer.
Marina Ovsyannikova has been charged over a protest she organized last month, holding a banner saying “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children were killed (in Ukraine). How many more children would have to die for you to stop?
If tried and convicted, Ovsyannikova faces up to 10 years in prison under a new law that criminalizes statements against the military and which was enacted shortly after Russian troops entered Ukraine, said said his lawyer, Dmitry Zakhvatov, in a Telegram article.
Ovsyannikova’s home was raided on Wednesday and she was taken in for questioning. Zakhvatov said the former Russian state-funded Channel One producer will spend the night in a holding cell at Moscow police headquarters.
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Ovsyannikova made international headlines on March 14 when she appeared behind an evening newscaster holding a poster saying “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here”. She was accused of denigrating the Russian military and fined 30,000 rubles ($270 at the time).
After quitting her job, Ovsyannikova became something of an activist, organizing anti-war pickets and speaking out publicly against the conflict.
She has been fined two more in recent weeks for disparaging the military in a critical Facebook post and comments she made outside a court where opposition figure Ilya Yashin has been remanded in custody in awaiting trial for spreading false information about the army.
According to Net Freedoms, a legal aid group specializing in free speech cases, on Wednesday there were 79 criminal cases for spreading false information about the military and up to 4,000 administrative cases for disparaging the armed forces. .
Independent journalists in Russia are particularly watched by the Kremlin. A Moscow court on Wednesday fined independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta 350,000 rubles ($5,700) for “mass abuse of freedom of information.” It is unclear what the newspaper would have done wrong.
Since Putin came to power more than two decades ago, nearly two dozen journalists have been killed, including at least four who worked for Novaya Gazeta. The newspaper closed its doors in March.
Its editor, Dmitry Muratov, won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. In June, he auctioned off his prize to raise money for Ukrainian refugee children. The gold medal sold for $103.5 million.
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