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Marina Ovsyannikova

Fugitive Russian war protest journalist gets 8-1/2-year sentence

Fugitive Russian war protest journalist gets 8-1/2-year sentence
A woman watches a recorded feed of the Russian Channel One's evening news broadcast TV show in which an employee enters Ostankino on-air TV studio with a poster reading ''No War. Stop the war. Don't believe the propaganda. You are being lied to here" in Moscow, Russia, 15 March 2022. The on-air protest was staged on 14 March by Marina Ovsyannikova, who worked as an editor. She was taken to the Ostankino police department. A protocol was drawn up against an employee of Channel One under the article on military censorship for discrediting the Russian armed forces. On 24 February Russian troops had entered Ukrainian territory in what the Russian president declared a 'special military operation', resulting in fighting and destruction in the country, a huge flow of refugees, and multiple sanctions against Russia. EPA-EFE/DSK

LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Former Russian TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who captured world attention when she burst into a news broadcast with a placard that read "Stop the war" and "They're lying to you", was sentenced in absentia on Wednesday to eight and half years in jail.

Ovsyannikova was fined for her original protest, less than three weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, in what it called a “special military operation”.

But she later faced criminal prosecution for “spreading knowingly false information about the Russian Armed Forces” in connection with a July 2022 protest when she stood on a river embankment opposite the Kremlin and held up a poster calling President Vladimir Putin a murderer and his soldiers fascists.

“How many more children must die before you will stop?” the poster read.

Ovsyannikova, 45, fled Russia with her daughter for an unspecified European country a year ago after escaping from house arrest, according to her lawyer, saying she had no case to answer.

The case against her was brought under laws passed soon after Russia’s invasion that made it a crime to “discredit” the armed forces or spread false information about them.

Ovsyannikova posted a statement on Telegram on the eve of the verdict in which she called the charges “absurd and politically motivated”.

“Of course I don’t admit my guilt,” she wrote. “And I don’t retract a single word.”

(Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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