Protester with 'no war' sign disrupts Russian state TV news broadcast
Channel One 'lying to you' about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, protester tells viewers
An anti-war protester interrupted the main news program on Russia's state TV Channel One on Monday, holding up a sign behind the studio presenter with slogans denouncing the war in Ukraine.
The sign, in English and Russian, read: "NO WAR. Stop the war. Don't believe propaganda. They are lying to you here." Another phrase, which looked like "Russians against war," was partly obscured.
The extraordinary protest took place on Day 19 of the war, which began when Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it calls a special military operation.
"Stop the war. No to war," the woman protesting could be heard shouting as the news anchor continued to read from her teleprompter.
The protester could be seen and heard for several seconds before the channel switched to a different report to remove her from the screen.
Вау. Девушка крутая <a href="https://t.co/QXC6s4DPki">pic.twitter.com/QXC6s4DPki</a>—@Kira_Yarmysh
"Wow, that girl is cool," Kira Yarmysh, spokesperson for jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, wrote on Twitter.
She posted a video of the incident, which quickly racked up more than 2.6 million views.
State TV is the main source of news for millions of Russians, and closely follows the Kremlin line that Russia was forced to act in Ukraine to demilitarize and "de-Nazify" the country, and to defend Russian-speakers there against "genocide." Ukraine and most of the world have condemned that as a false pretext for an invasion of a democratic country.
The woman was identified by OVD-Info, an independent protest-monitoring group, and by the head of the Agora human rights group, as Marina Ovsyannikova, an employee of the channel.
Pavel Chikov, head of Agora, said she had been arrested and taken to a Moscow police station. Russian state news agency Tass, citing a law enforcement source, said she may face charges under a law against discrediting the armed forces.
The law, passed on March 4, makes public actions aimed at "discrediting" Russia's army illegal and bans the "public dissemination of deliberately false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation." The offence carries a jail term of up to 15 years.
In a video recorded before the incident and posted online, a woman who appeared to be Ovsyannikova described herself as a Channel One employee and said she was ashamed to have worked for years spreading Kremlin propaganda. She said her father was Ukrainian and her mother Russian.
"What is happening now in Ukraine is a crime, and Russia is the aggressor country," she said. "The responsibility for that aggression lies on the conscience of only one man, and that man is Vladimir Putin.
"Now, the whole world has turned away from us and the next 10 generations of our descendants will not wash away the shame of this fratricidal war."
She urged Russians to go out and demonstrate.
Authorities have broken up anti-war protests. According to OVD-Info, which monitors protests and provides legal assistance to those detained, 14,911 people have been arrested.