Russian police on Sunday
briefly detained journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, a state television
producer who staged an anti-war protest live on air in March and
charged her with “discrediting” the Russian military.
No official statement has been
made, but her detention comes a few days after 44-year-old Ovsyannikova
demonstrated alone near the Kremlin holding a placard criticizing Russia’s
intervention in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin.
“Marina has been detained,”
her entourage said in a message posted on the journalist’s Telegram account.
“There is no information on where she is.”
The message included three
photos of her being led by two police officers to a white van, after apparently
having been stopped while cycling.
Her lawyer, Dmitry
Zakhvatov, confirmed her arrest to the state-run RIA Novosti news
agency, saying he did not know where Ovsyannikova had been taken.
“I assume that it is
linked one way or another to her act of protest,” he added.
Police released Ovsyannikova
three hours later, the journalist herself told the independent news
Telegram channel Mozhem Obyasnit.
Ovsyannikova said she has been
charged with “discrediting” the Russian military during last week’s
trial of opposition activist and former municipal deputy Ilya Yashin, where she
had turned up with other journalists and activists in his support.
On Friday, Ovsyannikova posted
photos of herself on Telegram showing her near the Kremlin and carrying a
protest placard raising the deaths of children and denouncing Putin as a
Declarations of this kind
expose her to criminal prosecution for publishing “false information”
about and “denigrating” the army, offenses that can carry heavy
She now faces a fine
of 50,000 rubles ($900) under the administrative charges of discrediting the
military’s actions, according to Avtozak Live, a Telegram channel that tracks
detentions across Russia.
internationally famous overnight in March when she staged her live TV protest,
holding a poster reading “No War” in English during the flagship
evening news program Vremya (Time) on Channel One television, where she had
served as editor. Pictures of her interrupting the broadcast went around the
She was briefly detained and
then released with a fine, but while a number of international observers
praised her protest, it was not universally acclaimed by Russia’s opposition.
Some critics said that she had
spent years working for Channel One, which they said was effectively a
mouthpiece for the Kremlin.
In the months following her
March protest, Ovsyannikova spent some time abroad, including a brief period
working for the German newspaper Die Welt.
In early July, she announced
that she was returning to Russia to settle a dispute over the custody of her