Former state TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova was placed under house detention until October by a Russian court on Thursday after she publicly condemned President Vladimir Putin’s invasion on Ukraine. Ovsyannikova, 44, was taken into custody by detectives on Wednesday and accused of disseminating rumors about the Russian military that the administration had considered incorrect. If found guilty, the mother of two may spend up to 10 years in prison.
Ovsyannikova, then a television editor for Channel One, made headlines across the world in March when she stormed the Vremya (Time) evening news set while carrying a placard that read “No War.” However, the house arrest is unrelated to that specific protest. It is connected to a one-person demonstration that Ovsyannikova staged in mid-July close to the Kremlin, during which she carried a sign that read, “Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists.”
In front of her, three “blood-soaked” dolls were arranged on the ground. She was put in a cage Thursday at the Basmanny district court in Moscow, where she was guarded by numerous police officers. “May the dead children haunt you in your dreams,” read the sign she was holding.
On the messaging service Telegram, her attorney Dmitry Zakhvatov claimed that “even” the most vicious serial killer from the Soviet Union, Andrei Chikatilo, wasn’t being guarded with such vigilance. The court determined that Ovsyankova should be under house arrest until October 9 during a hearing behind closed doors. Russia has essentially banned criticism of Putin’s decision to send soldiers to Ukraine on February 24.
Ovsyannikova, who spent 19 years working for Russian official television, has been offered refuge or other forms of diplomatic protection by French President Emmanuel Macron. Ilya Yashin and Vladimir Kara-Murza, two famous Putin critics, were imprisoned pending trial earlier this year for opposing Moscow’s operation in Ukraine. Ovsyannikova was the subject of a criminal investigation after she was fined by two Moscow courts for disparaging the Russian army on several occasions.