Russian propaganda machine breaks ranks

Nick Mosher

Marina Ovsyannikova, a TV editor for the Russian state-owned news station Channel One, interrupted the station’s broadcasting on March 14 to protest the war in Ukraine.

Running onto the set during the nightly news live broadcast, Ovsyannikova held up a sign saying: “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here.” The sign also said in English, “No war”—the popular slogan that has spread since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine—and was signed in English, “Russians against the war.”

Authorities detained Ovsyannikova shortly after this act and, she says, interrogated for 14 hours allowing no contact with her family or legal help.

The situation highlights a much greater issue within Russia—that of state-controlled propaganda that has intentionally misinformed the Russia population about the ongoing war in Ukraine. State media is lying to the public, making claims such as that the Ukrainian government is carrying out a genocide against ethnic Russians and that Ukrainian forces are bombing their own people. Ovsyannikova herself claims that her own mother is “brainwashed” by this propaganda.

Channel One is one of the most prominent media outlets peddling the Kremlin’s lies. Ovsyannikova admitted to this in the video message she recorded before running onto the set to denounce the war: “Unfortunately, for the past few years, I have been working on Channel One and doing Kremlin propaganda, and now I am very ashamed of it… ashamed that I allowed to zombify Russian people.” OVD-Info, an independent Russian human rights group, released this pre-recorded video immediately following her live protest. In it, Ovsyannikova urged Russians to join anti-war protests: “They can’t imprison us all.”

Ovsyannikova was offered asylum by French President Emmanuel Macron but declined, despite here anxiety over the safety of her children. “I am a patriot; I want to live in Russia,” she said in an interview with ABC News.

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