Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova was found guilty in absentia.
She staged an on-air protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ovsyannikova has described the charges as “absurd.”
Marina Ovsyannikova, a journalist who staged an on-air protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has been sentenced by a Moscow court to 8.5 years in prison.
She was tried in absentia and found guilty of “spreading knowingly false information” about the Russian armed forces.
Ovsyannikova, who fled Russia with her daughter last year after escaping from house arrest, has described the charges as “absurd.”
Russia’s legislation prohibits referring to the war as an “invasion” and mandates state-controlled news organizations to describe it as a “special military operation.”
Numerous individuals have faced imprisonment or fines for “discrediting” Russia’s military, leading to concerns about an unprecedented crackdown on dissent under President Vladimir Putin.
In a statement, the Moscow court announced Ovsyannikova’s sentence of eight years and six months in a “general regime penal colony” and imposed a four-year ban on her engaging in any electronic media-related activities, including the internet.
The charges against her were filed after she staged a protest near Moscow’s Kremlin in July 2022, during which she held a sign reading “Putin is a murderer. His soldiers are fascists.” During the trial, some of Ovsyannikova’s family members testified on the prosecution’s side.
Ovsyannikova’s current whereabouts are unknown, and she has characterized the charges against her as “politically motivated.”
She stated that she does not admit guilt and made a “difficult but morally correct choice” to live in exile.
Ovsyannikova gained international attention when she interrupted a live news broadcast at the state-run Channel One TV station in March 2022, where she worked at the time, with a sign reading “no war, stop the war; don’t believe the propaganda; they’re lying to you here.”
Despite facing repercussions from Russian authorities, her earlier career in Russian state media has led to skepticism from Ukrainian journalists and Russian dissidents.
Her visit to Ukraine last summer to cover the war for Germany’s Die Welt newspaper drew outrage from many Ukrainians, who called for her immediate dismissal.