Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova ‘should get Nobel Peace Prize’ for anti-war protest, say MPs
Acourageous TV journalist who protested against Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine on Russian state TV should be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize, MPs urged on Tuesday.
They praised the woman, identified as Marina Ovsyannikova, for showing “more courage in 10 seconds than many of us are likely to in a lifetime”.
In an audacious act, she walked in on Russia’s most-watched news show, with a placard, and told viewers “They’re lying to you here” and “Stop the War!”
She interrupted Russia’s most famous newsreader Ekaterina Andreeva, 60, on Kremlin-controlled Channel 1 that in recent weeks has spewed anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western rhetoric.
Ms Ovsyannikova, 43, who is believed to be an editor at the TV channel, is now expected to face criminal charges over her protest on the flagship Vremya broadcast, with one report suggesting she could face up to 15 years in prison.
As the Russian authorities clamped down on free speech and protests, with thousands of demonstrators having been arrested, Ms Ovsyannikova was being hailed a hero around the world.
Boris Johnson paid tribute to her bravery.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Mr Johnson wanted to “pay tribute to all of those in Russia standing up to Putin’s campaign of violence”.
He added: “It’s an illustration that there are a significant proportion of people in Russia who do not believe this war is in their name and are incredibly bravely standing up to make that clear.”
In a video address, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “I am grateful to those Russians who do not stop trying to convey the truth … And personally to the woman who entered the Channel One studio with an anti-war poster.”
In Britain, Nickie Aiken, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, told the Standard: “Marina showed more courage in 10 seconds than many of us are likely to in a lifetime.
“I fear for her fate after her brave stance against Putin’s brutal regime.
“Nominating her for the Nobel Peace Prize would send a clear message to the Russian people that our hostility is towards their leaders not them and that democracy, liberty and freedom are values worth fighting for.”
Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton and a member of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: “She certainly should be a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous act of defiance in the very home of disinformation.”
Kevin Hollinrake, Tory MP for Thirsk and Malton, stressed: “Bravery like this that brings down tyrants.”
Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson, added: “Marina Ovsyannikova and all those defying Putin in Russia must know the world stands with them. Their extraordinary acts of bravery and courage should be considered for a collective Nobel Peace Prize.
“Everyone in Russia must know the West stands with brave people like Marina. Britain needs to get our information to the Russian people better given the grip Putin has over state media.
“The Russian people must know Marina was not acting alone and that Putin’s murderous war has been condemned by the world.”
One report later citing law enforcement said that the Russian authorities are preparing a criminal case against Ms Ovsyannikova which could see her jailed for 15 years over her TV protest.
She faces prosecution under new article 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation for the “public dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the Russian Federation Armed Forces”, said Baza media outlet.
The maximum penalty under this article is 15 years in prison.
The decision to investigate the incident under this law was taken at an “emergency meeting” of law enforcement officers, said the report.
Ms Ovsyannikova is believed to have been born in Ukrainian city Odessa, and to have a Russian mother and Ukrainian father.
She was held soon after her stunt which is the most graphic protest so far against Mr Putin’s war at a time when almost all opposition media outlets have been closed.
She was seen as a loyalist on Channel 1, and an armed guard by the studio door did not stop her.
One of her lawyers Danill Berman said he expected her to be held initially for 15 days on an administrative charge, and then face arrest on a criminal accusation with a more serious custodial sentence likely – yet there was concern that she was being held in a secret location where her legal representatives could not see her.
Ms Ovsyannikova was reportedly initially held for three hours in the duty room at the channel’s Ostankino television centre headquarters in Moscow.
Another lawyer acting for her Pavel Chikov said on Tuesday: “Marina’s whereabouts have not been established yet.
“She has been detained for more than 12 hours.”
Women’s rights activist Alena Popova said: “Where is Marina Ovsyannikova?
“Her whereabouts now are unknown.
“The lawyer wasn’t allowed to her.
“Remembering torture and violence in Brateyevo police station, I am very worried for Marina. According to the law, she can not be arrested because she has two small children.”
Thousands of messages of praise and support from around the globe poured onto Ms Ovsyannikova’s social media in the wake of her brave protests, but she faced condemnation from some State TV and RT journalists.
An independent human rights group that monitors political arrests identified the TV protestor as Marina Ovsyannikova. The group, OVD-Info, posted on its website that Ms Ovsyannikova, who identified herself as an employee of the station, was taken into police custody.
Ms Ovsyannikova also spoke out against the war in a video on OVD-Info’s website.
“What is going on now is a crime,” she said. “Russia is an aggressor country and Vladimir Putin is solely responsible for that aggression.”
People in Russia have limited access to information from outside their country.
Russian President Mr Putin recently signed into law a measure that criminalises the spread of information that is considered by the Kremlin to be “fake” news.
Media outlets and individuals who publish information that deviates from Mr Putin’s narrative, that the invasion of Ukraine is a “special military operation”, are being targeted.
There have been blocks imposed on the BBC, the US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvia-based website Meduza.
Russia has also blocked social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
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