A Russian state television employee just interrupted the evening newscast to protest the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The woman ran out behind the news presenter on the evening news on Russia’s Pervy Kanal and raised a hand-drawn sign featuring Russian and Ukrainian flags and text, in both English and Russian, which read: “No war. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. Here they’re lying to you. Russians against war.”
The incident marks an unusually dramatic incident of protest at one of Russia’s state-run media outlets, which have significantly downplayed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and referred to the attack as only a “special military operation.” As a result, many Russians simply do not believe that their country has actually launched a massive invasion of Ukraine in a war that has caused thousands of deaths.
Shortly after the incident, a second video appeared in social media accounts purporting to be a pre-recorded, first-person account of the protester explaining herself.
The protester was identified by Russian state-controlled media, as well as by independent outlet Meduza, as an editor for Pervy Kanal named Marina Ovsiannikova. She blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for launching a war of aggression and called for Russians to rise up in protest.
“What’s happening in Ukraine is a crime. And Russia is the aggressor country,” the woman identified as Ovsiannikova said. The responsibility for this aggression belongs to “only one person—and that person is Vladimir Putin.”
She said that her father is Ukrainian and her mother is Russian, and she expressed profound regret about her work for Russian state media.
“Unfortunately for the last few years I have worked at Pervy Kanal, making Kremlin propaganda, and I am now deeply ashamed of that,” she said. “I’m ashamed that I let lies be told from the television screen; I’m ashamed that I allowed the Russian people to become zombified.”
Her moment of protest is likely to come with heavy consequences in Putin’s Russia, where thousands of anti-war protesters have been arrested. Russian news agency Tass reported that the Russian general prosecutor’s office is investigating the incident.
“Now the whole world has turned its back on us,” she said. “The next 10 generations of our descendants won’t be able to wash away the shame of this fratricidal war. We Russians are thinking and intelligent people. It’s in our power alone to stop all this madness. Join the protests. Don’t be afraid. They can’t arrest us all.”