| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

Russian journalist who fled house arrest says she is innocent

Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian TV journalist accused of disseminating fake news after staging a series of lone rallies against the conflict in Ukraine, said on Wednesday that she had escaped house arrest since she had no case to answer.

“I believe myself absolutely innocent, and because our state refuses to obey its own laws, I refuse to obey the measure of constraint placed on me as of September 30, 2022, and I liberate myself from it,” she added.

In a video posted on Telegram, she sat on a pink sofa and addressed Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service, criticising President Vladimir Putin over the war.

“Put a tag like this on Putin,” she said, gesturing to what appeared to be an electronic ankle bracelet.

Her lawyer, Dmitry Zakhvatov, said she was supposed to turn up to a court hearing at 10:00 Moscow time (0700 GMT), but it was held in absentia as investigators had failed to establish her whereabouts.

Ovsyannikova grabbed world attention in March by walking out in front of studio cameras during an evening news broadcast on state television with a placard that read “Stop the war” and “They’re lying to you”.

The Kremlin at the time denounced her act of protest as “hooliganism”.

The 44-year-old was given two months’ house arrest in August over a protest in July when she stood on a river embankment opposite the Kremlin and held up a poster calling Putin a murderer and his soldiers fascists.

She faced a sentence of up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of the charge of spreading fake news about Russia’s armed forces.

Her house arrest was due to last until Oct. 9, but the state-run news outlet Russia Today reported on Saturday that she had fled along with her 11-year-old daughter, and that her whereabouts were unknown. How she left and where she went are still unclear.

Russia passed new laws against discrediting or distributing “deliberately false information” about the armed forces on March 4, eight days after invading Ukraine.

  • Reuters