Russian State TV Smears On-Air Protest Journalist Marina Ovsyannikova as a ‘British Spy’

Government-run Channel One finally responds to Ovsyannikova’s viral “Stop the War!” moment – with a wild accusation

Marina Ovsyannikova
Marina Ovsyannikova

Russian government-run public television network Channel One has finally responded to a journalist’s on-air protest that went viral, accusing her of being a “British spy,” according to a translation of its reaction segment.

Marina Ovsyannikova caught the world’s attention early last week when she interrupted a live Channel One newscast, shouting “Stop the war!” and holding up a sign that said, “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here.” She was taken to court and fined, but continued to speak out, saying the protest was “spontaneous.”

Channel One presented a different theory.

According to a Twitter thread by Max Seddon, chief of the Financial Times’ bureau in Moscow, the public broadcasting network accused Ovsyannikova of being a spy for the U.K., saying she “betrayed [her] country and all of us … coldly, duplicitously, for a bonus.”

The Channel One anchor went on, Seddon tweeted, including an allusion to Ovsyannikova being like Judas from the Gospels: “Treason is always someone’s personal choice … But you need to call things like they are. … If they had called the well-known deed in exchange for 30 pieces of silver an act of passion, world history would have gone very differently.”

Ovsyannikova had earlier said there was no pretext whatsoever for her demonstration.

“I decided to do it spontaneously,” Ovsyannikova, who was an employee of Russia’s Channel One, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week. “But the decision was brewing for quite a long time. Lately, I have been feeling cognitive dissonance, more and more, between my beliefs and what we say on air.”