(NEW YORK) — Russian people do not support Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian journalist who made headlines after staging an anti-war protest on live TV, said Sunday, branding the unprovoked invasion “Putin’s war.”
“It’s Putin’s war, not [the] Russian people’s war,” Ovsyannikova told ABC “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos in her first interview with an American broadcast network.
Ovsyannikova ran onto the set of the main Russian state news live broadcast last Monday with an anti-war sign to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, standing behind a Channel One anchor as they were speaking.
The sign read, “NO WAR,” and “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here,” in English and Russian, respectively.
The program cut away within seconds, and officials took Ovsyannikova into custody, where she stayed overnight. The court fined Ovsyannikova 30,000 rubles (about $280) after being charged with an “administrative offense” stemming from an earlier video she recorded calling on Russians to take part in demonstrations against the war.
Under a newly enacted censorship law, any person speaking out against the Russian government’s narrative about the war, including by calling it a “war” or “invasion,” faces up to 15 years in prison. Ovsyannikova could still be charged under this law.
Stephanopoulos asked Ovsyannikova why she took the risk of speaking out.
“As soon as the war began, I could not eat. I could not sleep,” Ovsyannikova said.”What we showed on our programs was very different from what was going on in reality.”
Ovsyannikova told Stephanopoulos she wanted to do something that would attract more attention than protesting in the square, as well as to show the rest of the world that Russians do not support the war.
“I could show to the Russian people that this is just propaganda, expose this propaganda for what it is and maybe stimulate some people to speak up against the war,” Ovsyannikova said.
Ovsyannikova encouraged people to analyze information from multiple sources to understand what is really happening.
An independent protest monitoring group reports that as of Sunday, more than 15,000 people have been detained in Russia for protesting against the country’s war against Ukraine.
Stephanopoulos asked Ovsyannikova if she is worried for her safety, despite rejecting France’s offer of asylum.
“I am very worried for the safety of my children,” Ovsyannikova replied. “I have publicly refused to take political asylum in France because I am a patriot; I want to live in Russia.”
She acknowledged Russia is in a “very dark and difficult” period, but she encouraged people to speak up.
Stephanopoulos followed up, asking Ovsyannikova what her message is for President Vladimir Putin and the West.
Ovsyannikova said she wanted to show the world that not all Russians believe the same thing. She said that the sanctions against Russia are not just impacting Putin and his oligarchs.
“Ordinary people, ordinary Russian citizens who are against the war are also being affected,” Ovsyannikova said.
Ovsyannikova then gave her final message to her fellow citizens: “to think critically and analyze the information that is being presented to them critically.”
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.