“I decided to play in Russian Chile”. Marina Ovsyannikova criticizes Putin’s regime, flees the country, but returns to Moscow
On March 14, Ovsyannikova rose to fame when she interrupted a live broadcast on Pervy Kanal, the main Russian channel where she worked, with a banner against the attack launched by Vladimir Putin.
The gesture went around the world and changed his life. After this episode, he first announced that he would stay in Russia, but he moved to Germany and worked for the Die Welt newspaper for three months.
In her absence, her ex-husband, an employee of the pro-Kremlin network RT, sued for custody of her two children to prevent her from bringing them out of the country. It is for this reason that the 44-year-old journalist made the “difficult decision” to return to Russia in early July, he told AFP.
“I decided to play cold Russian,” she says, wearing an elegant black dress and sitting on a bench in central Moscow, after dropping her daughter off for summer lessons at a private school. .
After living comfortably and working on state television for 19 years, he is one of the last voices in Russia to publicly condemn the conflict in Ukraine.
Other influential critics remain in prison, keep a low profile or opt for exile. “I am a fighter, I continue to condemn the war, I do not want to stop, I am not afraid despite the threats”, declares Ovsianikova.
Since returning from exile, he has backed imprisoned opposition figure Ilya Yachin, demonstrated near the Kremlin with a banner accusing Putin of being a “murderer” and continues to post online messages denouncing the regime.
Despite the risks, he continues to participate in news programs broadcast by Russian adversaries on social networks. Because of his criticism, he was briefly detained by police near his home in mid-July and fined in two hearings for statements against the Ukrainian offensive.
This Monday, August 8, the journalist will be tried again for “discrediting” the military, not to mention the trial holding her children.
Moreover, Ovsianikova suffers from the hostility of the Russian and Ukrainian opposition on the one hand, who accuse her of being a propagandist in Moscow, and of the pro-Kremlin forces, on the other hand, who consider her a traitor to Russia. Others accuse him of acting out of opportunism, his career, or to make himself known internationally. Ovsyannikova quietly denies the allegations.
“For power, it’s useful to constantly create conspiracy theories against me, and people don’t know who to trust anymore,” he says.
The journalist admits to having made mistakes such as staying “too long” in her bubble without “finding the strength” to change jobs. According to her, this passivity and indifference adopted by many Russians is a form of “self-preservation” fueled by fear.
“Our people are very scared. Even those who understand all the nonsense and the horrors that are happening want to keep quiet,” he said, adding that Russians criticize power “in their kitchens”, away from prying ears. Soviet Union.
Ovsyannikova also recalls that she lives in a “jealous” situation, facing threats from all sides and a “family war”. But he insists his problems are “insignificant” compared to the plight of Ukrainians.
It remains to be seen whether his activism will earn him prosecution for “disseminating false information” about the army, punishable by a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Dozens of people have already been prosecuted in Russia for this reason.