Russia: Journalist Marina Ovsiannikova faces criminal charges

Russian journalist Marina Ovsiannikova was officially charged with “spreading false information” about the army on Wednesday 10 August. She was arrested today and will spend the night in pre-trial detention in Moscow. She faces “up to ten years in prison” under a new article of the Russian Criminal Code, introduced after the start of the war in Ukraine. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) have condemned the judicial harassment of the journalist and demanded her immediate release.

In this photo taken on July 28, 2022 Marina Ovsyannikova appears in court in Moscow. Credit: Alexander Nemenov / AFP.

Marina Ovsiannikova is famous for having interrupted a Russian state TV news programme and has already received two administrative fines for her anti-war stance in Ukraine. She is now facing criminal charges.

The former journalist of Russia’s first public television channel had spent three months working for the daily Die Welt in Germany before returning to Moscow at the beginning of July.

She was arrested on August 10 at her Moscow home following a 6 am search by ten investigative committee officers, who seized several phones and a computer. The Russian authorities are blaming her for a demonstration in front of the Kremlin on 15 July, during which she accused Vladimir Putin of being a “murderer”. She also mentioned the dead children in Ukraine. “More than 350 dead children in Ukraine, are they fake?” she maintained. “How many more children have to die for you to stop?”

"Marina Ovsiannikova deserves all possible protection. She is a journalist trying to tell the truth and fulfilling the public's right to know about the situation in Ukraine. She should not be subject to Russian authorities' intimidation practices. We stand by her, ask for her immediate release and a free press in Russia", said IFJ President Dominique Pradalié

“We strongly condemn the judicial harassment of Marina Ovsiannikova and all Russian citizens who dare to speak the truth about the war in Ukraine,” said EFJ President Maja Sever. “The EFJ denounces the regime of censorship and repression that is creating terror in Russia. We demand the immediate release of the journalist and the thousands of citizens persecuted for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

The Russian NGO OVD-Info has already documented more than 16,000 arrests of Russian citizens, since 24 February, for simply showing their opposition to the war in Ukraine.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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