Former Russian state television journalist, Marina Ovsyannikova who protested against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during a live broadcast and at the Kremlin is reported to be safe in Europe with her daughter.
“Ovsyannikova and her daughter left Russia a few hours after departing from the address where she was under house arrest. They are in Europe now,” the journalist’s lawyer, Dmitry Zakhvatov said.
“They are fine. They are waiting until they can talk about publicly, but for now it is not safe,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ovsyannikova’s son, who is an adult, remains in Russia, her lawyer said.
Her lawyer confirmed that both Ovsyannikova and her 11-year-old daughter are now “under the protection of a European state.” However, he declined to elaborate further as “it may turn out to be a problem” for her.
Earlier this month, the state-run Russia Today reported that the journalist had escaped pre-trial house arrest and fled home with her daughter and that her whereabouts were unknown.
The 44-year-old former propagandist editor at Channel One made global headlines in March when she interrupted a broadcast of its flagship evening newscast, Vremya holding a poster written in Russian and English which read “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here,” and “No war” and “Russians against war,” and shouting “Stop the war, no to war, stop the war, no to war.”
Immediately after her protest, Ovsyannikova was detained and, after several hours of questioning, was fined 30,000 roubles ($280) by a local court in Moscow, but her lawyers said she could face further charges at a later point.
Following the incident, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Ovsyannikova for her protest, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, offered her asylum, but she turned it down.
Soon after the incident, Ovsyannikova fled Russia and was hired temporarily by Germany’s Die Welt newspaper. Subsequently, on July 4, she posted on social media that she was returning to Russia to fight a custody battle for her daughter.
“My son is now an adult, he is almost 18, and he has the right to determine his own destiny,” she wrote in her Instagram post. “But my 11-year-old daughter has to live with me outside the aggressor state. Only outside of Russia at war will I be able to instill correct moral values in my child. She must grow up in a free Western society where every human life is priceless.”
Later in August, Ovsyannikova was put under house arrest for her lone protest held in mid-July on a river embankment opposite the Kremlin when she held up a poster calling President Vladimir Putin a murderer and his soldiers, fascists — a charge for which she could face up to 10 years in prison.
Soon after its invasion of Ukraine, Russia passed new laws against discrediting or distributing “deliberately false information” about the armed forces.