Anti-war protestor makes a live broadcast on Russia’s most-watched news show

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Anti-war protestor makes a live broadcast on Russia’s most-watched news show

A state television employee shouted on a live broadcast of Russia’s most-watched news show on Monday evening, “Stop the war!” And holding the sign “They’re lying to you here” in an extraordinary act of protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to a Russian rights group that is giving him legal aid, the woman, Marina Ovsiyannikova, works for Channel 1, the state-run television channel whose news broadcasts she ran. The group also released a video in which Ms Ovsyannikova says she is “too embarrassed” to work to produce “Kremlin propaganda”.

The news show, “Vermya”, is one of the Kremlin’s major propaganda outlets, watched by millions of Russians every evening. The off-script intervention underscored that President Vladimir V. How discontent continues to seep into the public consciousness in Russia after Putin suppressed opposition to the war and the government enacted a law to punish anyone spreading “false news” about an invasion of Ukraine. With imprisonment of up to 15 years.

“We are the Russian people, thinking and smart,” she said in the recorded video, calling on Russians to protest against the war. “Only we have the power to stop all this madness.”

On Monday evening, Ms Ovsyannikova walked on set as the anchor was describing Russian talks with Belarus on how to mitigate the blow from Western sanctions, online videos show. He hoisted a sign with a Ukrainian and a Russian flag, which read in English, “No War” and “War Against Russians.” In Russian, it said: “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here.”

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Anchor Yekaterina Andreeva, a veteran who has hosted the “Vermya” newscast for more than two decades, continued to read her script, even as Ms. Ovsyannikova protested behind her. The show got cut from the set within a few seconds. Later, according to the Tass state news agency, Channel 1 said it was “investigating an incident with an outsider in the frame during a live broadcast.”

According to OVD-Info, an activist group supporting Russians detained for protesting, Ms Ovsyannikova was detained and taken to a police station after the protest. Further information about his condition was not immediately available.

The moment went viral online in Russia, despite the Kremlin’s recent efforts to quell dissent on the Internet. Within hours, Ms. Ovsyannikova’s Facebook page had more than 13,000 comments, many of which thanked or praised her for her bravery in Russian, English and Ukrainian.

Their protest comes after Mr Putin signed a law earlier this month that effectively criminalizes any public protest or independent news reporting about the war. The law may make it a crime to simply call the war a “war” – the Kremlin says is a “special military operation” – on social media or in a news article or broadcast. Underlining journalists’ fear of the law, the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta blurred out Ms Ovsyannikova’s anti-war poster in a photo of the protest. Posted it on Twitter.

Since Mr. Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the government has blocked access to the websites of major Russian-language outlets located outside the country inside Russia and to Facebook, a social network popular in the West. – In search of the urban middle class where the invasion has been strongly criticized. On Monday, it also began blocking access to Instagram, a hugely popular site for reporting and activism in Russia.

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In recent weeks thousands of protesters took to the streets and squares of Russian cities to protest, only to be met with heavy police presence. According to a tally compiled by OVD-Info, there have been around 15,000 arrests. While Mr. Putin has in the past been adept at ruthlessly suppressing dissent, he could face a challenge if the protest turns into a larger movement that cripples the official war narrative.

The English-language content of Ms. Ovsyannikova’s poster shows how some Russians are willing to show that the war against Ukraine is not being fought in her name. Frustrated with the future of their country and fearing a possible army and closed borders, thousands of Russians have fled to Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Central Asia and Europe since the start of the Russian invasion.

Alina Lobzina reported from Istanbul.

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