Russia finds journalist Marina Ovsyannikova guilty of discrediting army


A journalist in Russia has been found guilty of discrediting the armed forces under a charge she described as “absurd” in court.

Marina Ovsyannikova said she would not retract her words as she was fined 50,000 roubles (£675) for speaking out against the war in Ukraine.

In March, soon after Vladimir Putin launched the invasion, she burst into the studio of Russian state TV’s Channel One – where she worked as an editor – to denounce the war by holding up a placard during a live news bulletin.

At the time she was fined 30,000 roubles (£400, or $490) for breaching protest laws.

Now she has appeared in court over subsequent social media posts in which she said that those responsible for the invasion of Ukraine should be standing in the dock before an international tribunal.

During the trial, Ms Ovsyannikova said she did not understand why she was on trial, telling the court: “What’s going on here is absurd. War is horror, blood and shame.”

Marina Ovsyannikova holds up ‘No War’ sign on Russia’s Channel One

(YouTube / Channel One)

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

She described Russia as an aggressor, saying: “The beginning of this war is the biggest crime of our government.”

The judge said: “The evidence confirms Ovsyannikova’s guilt. There is no reason to doubt its authenticity.”

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

Meanwhile, Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor has filed a lawsuit to revoke the registration of the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.

Novaya Gazeta’s operations were suspended in March, shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine, after receiving warnings from the communications regulator and being forced to remove content from its website on the invasion.

Some of the newspaper’s staff have set up a European edition from Latvian capital Riga, while editor-in-chief, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov, has remained in Russia despite opposing the war.

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