Russian journalist charged with spreading disinformation about Russia's military

Russian journalist charged with spreading disinformation about Russia's military

Marina Ovsyannikova has been fined several times over protests against Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

Russian authorities charged journalist Marina Ovsyannikova with spreading disinformation about the Russian military.

Ovsyannikova became known to global audiences in March when she unfurled a placard critical of Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine during a live evening news broadcast. The journalist has staged several more protests against Russia's use of force against its neighbor.

On Wednesday, Ovsyannikova's attorney Dmitry Zahvatov posted a post on Facebook, confirming that his client had been charged under paragraph 207.3 of the country's penal code, which was introduced soon after the Kremlin began its offensive against Ukraine. The journalist could face up to ten years in jail if convicted.

The 44-year-old is suspected of publicly spreading disinformation about the use of armed forces, motivated by political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred, or by hatred or enmity toward a social group. On Wednesday morning, Zahvatov revealed that the journalist had been apprehended by police officers, forcing their way into her house. The residence was searched and Ovsyannikova was taken to Moscow and interrogated, the lawyer said.

The attorney said there was no decision as to whether she will be kept in pre-trial detention or released on bail.

He said that the Russian Investigative Committee had launched a probe into Ovsyannikova's protest on July 15 on the Moskva River embankment outside the Kremlin when she unfurled a placard that reads: Putin is a murderer. His soldiers are fascists. 352 children are dead. How many more people should die for you to die? Last month a Moscow court fined her 50,000 rubles $813, as she later explained to Russian media that fine was imposed over her speech critical of Russia's military offensive, which she delivered outside a court where the case of the opposition Moscow municipal lawmaker, Ilya Yashin, had been heard.

In early August, Ovsyannikova was slapped with one more fine over a Facebook post criticizing Russia's military campaign in Ukraine.

On March 14, by which time she was working on Russia's 1 TV channel, Ovsyannikova walked behind a news presenter during a live broadcast and unfurled a placard, part of which was written in English, part in Russian.

The message read: No war in English Stop the war. Don't believe the propaganda. They lie to you here in Russian Russians against war in English The woman chanted several times Stop the war! The live broadcast was not interrupted and the protester was visible for several seconds.

Following her on-air protest, Ovsyannikova was briefly detained and fined, though not over the protest itself, but rather for a video message she had recorded in advance and posted on social media. She called on Russians to take part in unauthorized protests against Moscow's special operation in Ukraine.

Ovsyannikova's performance quickly made her a darling of the Western media.

In April, the Russian journalist was hired by Germany's Die Welt news channel as an untenured correspondent. She later revealed that the contract had expired after three months.

The authorities have yet to comment on the most recent charges against Ovsyannikova.