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Moscow TV protester plays “Russian roulette” with a risky comeback

#Moscow #protester #plays #Russian #roulette #risky #comeback

Marina Ovsyannikova, who denounced Russia’s intervention in Ukraine during a live TV broadcast, knew that returning to Moscow would be like playing Russian roulette.

In an interview with AFP, the 44-year-old mother-of-two, who returned from Europe last month, said she understood she could be arrested at any moment.

“I decided to play Russian roulette,” said the former editor of Channel One, sitting on a bench in central Moscow in an elegant black dress.

“If they make that decision, they will arrest me in a single day. It’ll only take a few seconds,” she said after taking her 11-year-old daughter to art class.

In March, Ovsyannikova became known for interrupting a live TV program to denounce President Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine.

In the months following her protest, Ovsyannikova spent some time abroad, working for the German newspaper Die Welt for three months.

In early July, she made the “difficult decision” to return home when her ex-husband, an employee of Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT, sued her for custody of their two children.

Since her high-profile protest, Ovsyannikova has been fined several times and is due to appear again in court on Monday for discrediting the Russian army.

She will also attend the custody hearings.

Public criticism of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has been banned, and most government critics have either fled the country for fear of prosecution or ended up behind bars.

However, Ovsyannikova said she would continue to speak out.

“I am a fighter, I continue to actively denounce the war,” she said cheerfully.

“I have no intention of stopping, I am not afraid despite the constant intimidation from the authorities.”

– “Putin the murderer” –

Since her return, Ovsyannikova has represented opposition politician Ilya Yashin in court, protested with a poster calling Putin a “murderer” and published anti-government posts online. In mid-July she was briefly arrested by the police near her home.

Ovsyannikova, who currently has no permanent job, works as a freelancer for foreign media. Most independent Russian media have either been shut down or are operating from abroad.

The journalist, who worked for state television for 19 years, said she recently sold her car to earn extra money.

Their protest has provoked hostile reactions from many quarters.

Pro-Kremlin officials and former colleagues have accused Ovsyannikova of betraying her country. Critics in Ukraine and the West have claimed she is a spy who is still embedded in Russian state media.

Many members of the Russian opposition have accused her of disembarking in an opportunistic move and seeking glory.

Ovsyannikova denies the allegations.

“It’s convenient for the authorities to keep creating new conspiracy theories around me, people already don’t know what to believe,” she said.

But Ovsyannikova admitted she’s made mistakes in the past and stayed in her comfort zone “too long” without “finding the strength” to leave state television sooner.

For them, the inaction and indifference embraced by many Russians is a form of “self-preservation” fueled by fear.

“Our people are really very scared,” she said.

“Even those who understand the absurdity, the horror of what is happening, prefer to remain silent.”

Remembering the Soviet era, many Russians only criticize the authorities “in their kitchens,” where no one can hear them, she said.

– ‘Unenviable Fate’ –

Aside from criticism in Russia and abroad, Ovsyannikova said she also had a “war at home” to fight.

Her mother had become a victim of state propaganda, her son had turned against her and she had to fight for custody of her children.

“My fate is unenviable,” said Ovsyannikova.

However, she stressed that their problems are nothing compared to the suffering of the Ukrainian people, who are facing an offensive that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions.

The authorities have not announced the opening of criminal investigations against Ovsyannikova. But their repeated convictions for discrediting the Russian army could result in a criminal conviction carrying up to 15 years in prison.

Ovsyannikova believes the authorities will be reluctant to draw more attention to her case, citing her “solid international support”.

Ovsyannikova said she would like to be able to leave the country with her daughter.

She will remain in Russia for the time being.

She has no illusions that the official pressure on her will increase.

“You’re going to keep intimidating me,” she said.

Using an old Soviet expression, she said the authorities under Putin could punish virtually anyone.

“Give me the person and I’ll find the crime.”

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