While TV audiences outside of Russia have seen reports of large anti-war protests in major Russian cities — followed quickly by Kremlin security forces arresting everyone they can catch who participated in them — the viewing audiences inside the Vladimir Putin-controlled country have only seen carefully vetted propaganda about an event that they are forbidden by law to refer to as a “war”…until today, that is.
In a move as remarkable for its bravery as it was dangerous for its perpetrator, Maria Ovsyannikova, an employee of Russia’s Channel One state TV network, barged onto the soundstage during a live news broadcast holding a sign in mixed English and Cyrillic characters reading “No war” and “Russians against war,“ all while shouting in Russian: “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.”
If the intrusion on the news program shocked the news anchor, one could hardly tell since she continued reading from the teleprompter as if nothing was going on behind her, but the control room quickly switched to the videotape as the courageous protestor was whisked offstage.
Post-Soviet visual. Unprecedented scenes as a woman runs out with an anti-war poster during a live broadcast of the evening news on Russia’s state TV Channel One. “Stop the war. Don't believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here" pic.twitter.com/80s3givvYl
— Soviet Visuals (@sovietvisuals) March 14, 2022
Given that Putin has made it a crime for journalists to refer to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a war, it’s a pretty safe assumption that Ovsyannikova was arrested and transported to prison where she will likely remain for a considerable amount of time as long as Putin remains in control.
Luckily, the now-former employee of Channel One recorded a video explaining her reasons for executing such an audacious and effective stunt at her own personal peril. In the video, Ovsyannikova speaks in her native language, but a kindly commenter added a handy translation of her words.
— Frei Raum (@Freiraum77) March 14, 2022
With both Russian and Ukrainian ancestry, Ovsyannikova bravely pins the entire blame for the war on Vladimir Putin and notes that the people of the two countries are “brothers,” not enemies. Denouncing the zombification of the Russian people, she expresses her shame at deceiving the Russian people through her job at state TV peddling propaganda, and she called on “thinking, and intelligent” Russians to cast aside their fears and rise up in protest against the war.
While “they cannot jail us all” sounds true enough if a sufficient number of people decide to rise up, Ovsyannikova is likely suffering in a cell right now for her act of protest, although because reporting on the incident would violate Putin’s ban on negative news about his “military action,” it’s difficult to find out exactly what happened to Ovsyannikova after she was removed from the studio.
Now if only someone would do something similar to Tucker Carlson on Fox News.
Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.