Russian anti-war protester challenges court for discrediting military


Former Russian state TV worker Marina Ovsyannikova, who staged an anti-war protest on live state TV and was later charged with public activity aimed at discrediting the Russian military amid the conflict Ukraine-Russia attends a hearing in Moscow, Russia July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

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  • This content was produced in Russia, where law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.

MOSCOW, July 28 (Reuters) – A former state television journalist accused of discrediting Russia’s armed forces by protesting Moscow’s actions in Ukraine told a court on Thursday that the charge against her was absurd.

Marina Ovsyannikova defiantly repeated her protest and said she would not take back her words.

“What is happening here is absurd,” Ovsyannikova told the court. “War is horror, blood and shame.”

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Ovsyannikova came to international attention in March after she burst into a studio of Russian state television, her employer at the time, to denounce the war in Ukraine during a live newscast. At the time, she was fined for flouting protest laws.

She is currently on trial for subsequent social media posts in which she wrote that those responsible for Russia’s actions in Ukraine would find themselves in the dock in an international court.

She faces up to 15 years in prison for discrediting the armed forces under a law passed in March shortly after President Vladimir Putin launched what he calls his “special military operation” against Ukraine.

Addressing the court, Ovsyannikova said she did not understand why she was there and why she was being tried.

“Your accusations are like accusing me of spreading monkeypox,” she said. “The purpose of the trial is to intimidate all people who oppose the war in the Russian Federation.”

She described Russia as an aggressor country, saying, “The start of this war is our government’s greatest crime.”

A lawyer for Ovsyannikova said she had the right to speak under Article 29 of the Russian constitution which protects the right to freedom of expression.

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Reuters reporting; edited by Guy Faulconbridge

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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