October 5, 2023

05.10.2023 – SEEMO Condemns Harsh Sentencing of Former Russian Journalist Marina Ovsyannikova

Former Russian television journalist and human rights activist Marina Ovsyannikova (Мари́на Влади́мировна Овся́нникова), born 1978 in Odesa as Tkatschuk (Ткачук), known for her bold anti-war protest during a live news broadcast, has been sentenced in absentia on Wednesday 4 October 2023 to 8 and a half years in prison.

Ovsyannikova initially garnered world-wide attention when she disrupted a news broadcast on 14 March 2022, with a placard stating “Stop the war” and “They’re lying to you” just three weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Marina worked as a journalist at Channel One Russia (https://www.1tv.ru/) and later for several months for the German newspaper and TV channel Die Welt / Welt (https://www.welt.de/), when she was in Germany. Die Welt ended the cooperation with her after a pressure from Ukrainian diaspora.

Her legal troubles escalated when she faced criminal prosecution for “spreading knowingly false information about the Russian Armed Forces.” This prosecution stemmed from a July 2022 protest in Moscow near the Kremlin (Московский Кремль), Russia, where she displayed a poster branding President Vladimir Putin a murderer and his soldiers as fascists. The poster included a emotional question, “352 children are dead. How many more children must die before you will stop?”

Ovsyannikova, is a refuge in an undisclosed European country with her daughter. Her son is still in Russia.

Her case was brought under laws enacted after Russia’s invasion, making it a crime to discredit the armed forces or disseminate false information about them.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the sentencing of Marina Ovsyannikova, emphasizing the importance of journalists’ freedom to express their opinions without fear of retribution. Her brave actions highlight the critical role independent journalists’ play in Russia in providing accurate information to the public.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non-profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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