A live evening news program on Russia’s state-run television channel was interrupted on Monday by someone who walked into the studio with a poster protesting the war in Ukraine.
The moment was a risky protest in a country where independent media have been blocked or shut down and where it has become illegal to contradict the government’s war narrative.
A presenter was speaking during the newscast when a woman appeared on camera behind her, holding a sign with ‘no war’ scrawled in English at the top, with a message in Russian below calling on people not to believe the propaganda Russian.
Within seconds, the news program switched to another scene.
Russian state television regularly amplifies the government line that troops entered Ukraine to save people from “neo-Nazis” and to defend Russians from a country preparing to attack. The invasion of Ukraine is described in Russia as a “special military operation”.
An independent human rights group that monitors political arrests identified the woman as Marina Ovsyannikova. The group, OVD-Info, posted on its website that Ovsyannikova, who identified herself as a station employee, was taken into custody.
Ovsyannikova spoke out against the war in a video on the OVD-Info website.
“What is happening now is a crime,” she said. “Russia is an aggressor country and Vladimir Putin is solely responsible for this aggression.”
Speaking in a video address early Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Ovsyannikova.
People in Russia have limited access to information from outside their country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed into law a measure that criminalizes the dissemination of information considered by the Kremlin to be “fake” news, which carries a 15-year prison sentence.
Media outlets and individuals who publish information that deviates from Putin’s narrative are targeted.
Blockages have been imposed on the BBC, the US government-funded Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvian site Meduza.
Russia has also blocked social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
This is a live update. Click here for comprehensive coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.