Exiled Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova has been sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in absentia for "disseminating false information" about the Russian armed forces, according to the state-backed Tass news agency. Photo by Mohammed Badra/EPA-EFE
Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Exiled Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison by a Russian court for "disseminating false information" about the Russian armed forces.
The verdict was handed down in absentia as Ovsyannikova escaped from house arrest in October 2022 and her whereabouts are currently unknown, Russia's state-run TASS news agency reported.
"Taking into account the position of the prosecutor's office, the court sentenced Ovsyannikova to eight years and six months of imprisonment to be served in a general regime correctional colony," the Federal Prosecutor's office said.
Ovsyannikova posted a message to the court on Telegram Tuesday, dismissing the charges as "absurd and politically motivated."
"They decided to arrange a demonstrative flogging for the fact that I was not afraid and called a spade a spade. Russian television is a deceitful propaganda machine, war is war, and Putin is a war criminal," she wrote.
In March 2022, Ovsyannikova interrupted a live broadcast from Russia's Channel One holding a protest sign reading "Stop the war, don't believe propaganda, here you are being lied to."
During the broadcast, Ovsyannikova yelled "Stop the war! No war!"
After her protest, the human rights organization OVD-Info posted a pre-recorded message from Ovsyannikova to Telegram.
"Sadly, during the last years that I have worked at Channel One I spread the Kremlin propaganda, and I am very ashamed of this. I am ashamed I allowed lies to be told on TV screens, I am ashamed I allowed Russian people to be fooled," Ovsyannikova said.
"We were silent in 2014 when it all started. We did not go out to protest when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny. We simply watched this inhumane regime. Now the whole world has turned away from us and the next ten generations of our descendants will not wash away the shame of this fratricidal war. We the Russians are wise and proud, it is up to us to stop this madness. Come out to protest, do not be afraid," Ovsyannikova continued.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged the protest and expressed gratitude.
"I'm thankful to those Russians who don't stop trying to deliver the truth, who are fighting against disinformation and tell real facts to their friends and families, and personally to that woman who went into the studio of Channel One with an antiwar poster," President Zelensky said.