Russian journalist placed under house arrest for criticizing the war

A Russian court on Thursday ordered the house arrest of a former state television journalist for nearly two months pending an investigation and possible trial for spreading false information about the Russian armed forces.

Marina Ovsyannikova was charged over a street protest last month, when she held up a banner that read: “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children were killed (in Ukraine). How many other kids would have to die for you to stop?”

If convicted, Ovsyannikova faces up to 10 years in prison under a new law that criminalizes statements against the military. The law was enacted shortly after Russian troops arrived in Ukraine.

In the courtroom on Thursday, Ovsyannikova held up a poster saying “Let murdered children come to you in your dreams at night.” She first made international headlines on March 14, when she staged an on-air protest against Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

“Marina has become hostage to her own conscience and her love for her children, you see,” her attorney, Dmitry Zakhvatov, said after the hearing.

“She cannot be abroad because her children are here, and she cannot remain silent here because she is a prisoner of her conscience,” Zakhvatov said. “As a mother, she can’t stay silent. She sees what’s going on and it gets her talking.”

In March, Ovsyannikova appeared behind the presenter of an evening news program on Channel One holding a poster saying “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here”. She quit her job at the chain, 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 with comments she made outside a court where an opposition activist also accused of spreading false information about the army was remanded in custody.

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. .

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