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TV protester confirms she’s on the run from Russian authorities

file photo: former russian state tv employee marina ovsyannikova attends a court hearing in moscow
Marina Ovsyannikova attending an earlier court hearing in Moscow

Russian TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, famous for staging an on-air protest against Russia’s war in Ukraine, confirmed she had escaped house arrest over charges of spreading fake news again, saying she had no case to answer.

“I consider myself completely innocent, and since our state refuses to comply with its own laws, I refuse to comply with the measure of restraint imposed on me as of 30 September 2022 and release myself from it,” she said on Telegram.

Her lawyer said she was due to turn up to a hearing at 10:00 Moscow time (0700 GMT) at a Moscow district court, but that investigators had failed to establish her whereabouts.

Ovsyannikova, 44, was given two months house arrest in August over a protest in July when she stood on a river embankment opposite the Kremlin and held up a poster calling President Vladimir Putin a murderer and his soldiers fascists.

She faced a sentence of up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of the charge of spreading fake news about Russia’s armed forces.

Her house arrest was due to last until Oct. 9, but the state-run news outlet Russia Today reported on Saturday that she had fled along with her 11-year-old daughter and that her whereabouts were unknown.

How she left and where she went are still unclear, but on Monday, her name could be seen on the interior ministry’s online list of fugitives from justice, accompanied by a photo.

In Wednesday’s statement on her Telegram social media feed, she confirmed her escape, criticising the article of the criminal code being used to prosecute her and saying she was being persecuted “for telling the truth”.

Russia passed new laws against discrediting or distributing “deliberately false information” about the armed forces on March 4, eight days after invading Ukraine.

Ovsyannikova came to international prominence later in March by walking out in front of studio cameras during an evening news broadcast on the flagship Channel One with a placard that read “Stop the war” and “They’re lying to you”.

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