Russian journalist who protested against war on TV is hired by German media group

Marina Ovsyannikova has been hired by media outlet Welt as Kremlin says it's considering revoking the citizenship of people it considers to be 'traitors'

Marina Ovsyannikova's protest during the live broadcast of Russia's most-watched TV news programme, presented by Yekaterina Andreyeva, in Moscow on March 14. AFP

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Germany’s Welt media outlet has hired Marina Ovsyannikova, the journalist who last month interrupted Russia’s most-watched TV news show with a protest criticising President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ovsyannikova, 43, will serve as a freelance correspondent for the Welt newspaper and its TV channel, reporting from Russia and Ukraine, the organisation's parent company Axel Springer said on Monday.

She was a producer at Russia’s state-run Channel One when she interrupted its flagship news programme Vremya with a poster demanding an end to the war.

Ovsyannikova was detained for 14 hours and fined 30,000 roubles ($370).

The Kremlin has cracked down on media since the start of the war in February.

Almost all of Russia’s independent outlets have been forced to close or move abroad, while the authorities have banned Facebook and Instagram to try to control access to information.

An ally of Mr Putin, Vyacheslav Volodin, the Speaker of the lower house of Parliament, said on Monday it was “right” to revoke the citizenship of people considered “traitors".

In a post on his Telegram channel, Mr Volodin specifically mentioned Ms Ovsyannikova and her new job. Current law does not allow revoking citizenship and banning entry, he said.

Ovsyannikova, who speaks Russian and English but not German, published an article on the Welt website on Monday in which she said that she made her protest because “moral principles were more important than well-being, peace of mind and orderly living.”

“The war in Ukraine was the point of no return and silence was no longer an option,” she wrote.

Ovsyannikova said she had faced “incredible harassment” on social media, including accusations that she worked for the Russian or British intelligence services.

“Everyone is looking for a hidden meaning and coming up with the most unbelievable conspiracy theories,” she said.

“Nobody wants to believe that it was a citizen’s emotional protest.”

Updated: April 12, 2022, 4:41 AM
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