Russian TV journalist who staged on-air war protest falls ill after suspected poisoning

By Isaac M October 13, 2023

French police are investigating the possible poisoning of a former Russian state TV journalist who quit after making an on-air protest against the war in Ukraine.

Marina Ovsyannikova, who fled Russia for France with her daughter last year, called emergency services and was taken to hospital after suddenly falling ill as she left her Paris apartment, the French capital’s prosecutor’s office said.

The 45-year-old said she suspected that she was poisoned, it added.

An examination of her apartment was being carried out by police, prosecutors added.

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Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which helped Ms Ovsyannikova leave her native country, said its team has been “at her side” as she sought medical attention.

She gained international attention in March last year when she interrupted a live broadcast to protest against the war in Ukraine, holding up a sign which read in English: “No war. Russians against war.”

In Russian, it read: “NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you here.”

Marina Ovsyannikova walked behind the presenter in a bulletin on Channel One with a placard denouncing the invasion of Ukraine.
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Ms Ovsyannikova denounced the invasion of Ukraine on live TV

At the time she was the editor of the Vremya nightly news programme, but after quitting her job Ms Ovsyannikova became somewhat of an activist, staging anti-war pickets and speaking out against the conflict.

She was fined for flouting protest laws and posted on social media to condemn those responsible for the ongoing war.

Her fine was worth 30,000 roubles (around £223.40 at the time).

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Protester interrupts Russian state TV

After her home was raided by Russian authorities in August last year, she was put under house arrest before her escape to Europe.

Earlier this month, a Moscow court sentenced her to eight and a half years in prison in absentia for spreading false information about the Russian army.

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