UPDATE: Marina Ovsyannikova was “detained” after her protest and has subsequently been released and fined for a video message, the BBC reported Tuesday afternoon. “The 30,000 rouble (£214, $280) fine relates to her video message,” the report said.
A woman who interrupted live Russian state television on Monday with a sign protesting the war in Ukraine is now reportedly feared to be missing.
“NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you here,” the sign said, according to Reuters.
The protester has been identified as Channel One employee Marina Ovsyannikova, who’s reportedly the head of the Agora human rights group.
The Kremlin on Tuesday dismissed Ovsyannikova as participating in “hooliganism.”
“As far as this woman is concerned, this is hooliganism,” said Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson. “The channel and those who are supposed to will get to the bottom of this.”
A tweet from Russian human rights group OVD-Info posted Tuesday suggested Ovsyannikova was missing. “A pre-investigation check was initiated against Channel One employee Maria Ovsyannikova, who came out with an anti-war poster during the live broadcast of the Vremya program, TASS reports citing its source. Where she is is still unknown,” the translated tweet said, according to The Washington Examiner.
❗️В отношении сотрудницы «Первого канала» Марии Овсянниковой, вышедшей с антивоенным плакатом в кадр во время прямого эфира программы «Время», возбудили доследственную проверку, сообщает ТАСС со ссылкой на свой источник
Где она находится — до сих пор неизвестно https://t.co/qtSxd0HJBa
— ОВД-Инфо (@OvdInfo) March 15, 2022
Ovsyannikova could face up to 15 years behind bars under a new Russian law.
“State investigators were looking on Tuesday at whether she could be punished under a new law that carries jail terms of up to 15 years, Russia’s TASS news agency cited a law enforcement source as saying,” Reuters noted. “The legislation adopted eight days after the invasion of Ukraine makes public actions aimed at discrediting Russia’s army illegal and bans the spread of fake news or the ‘public dissemination of deliberately false information’ about the use of Russia’s armed forces.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin last week banned Facebook and other social media sites from the nation, another move to block dissent and so-called “misinformation.”
The Guardian reported that since the ban, “hundreds of thousands of Russians have sought to circumvent the ban using a virtual private network. A VPN creates an encrypted connection between your device and a remote server, which can be anywhere in the world, so in theory you can access sites blocked in your country.”
Back in February, Russia used one of its federal agencies to warn citizens not to participate in anti-war protest, The Daily Wire reported:
The Russian Investigative Committee, a Russian federal agency tasked with investigating various matters of corruption, has warned its citizens not to participate in any anti-war protests after President Vladimir Putin announced … that Russia would be launching a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
… CNN reported that Russia issued a statement warning that Russian individuals in connection “with the spread of calls for participation in riots and rallies related to the tense foreign policy situation,” would suffer “negative legal consequences” such as prosecution and criminal liability.
“It should be remembered that holding a criminal record holds negative consequences and leaves a mark on the person’s future,” the Russian committee also said.
Earlier this month, some 4,500-plus protesters were arrested in a single day for participating in anti-war demonstrations in Russia, OVD-Info claimed.
“Crowds chanted ‘No to war!’ while streaming through Moscow and St. Petersburg in a pair of videos posted to Twitter,” The Washington Post described. “In another, a demonstrator being hauled away by law enforcement sang Ukraine’s anthem.”