Until recently, Marina Ovsyannikova worked in the most important Russian television, Pervy Kanal. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she appeared behind the presenter in the frame with a poster condemning the war in Ukraine. She was fired from her job and left the country. She wants to “preach the truth”, but the Ukrainians are skeptical of her. They argue that Ovsiannikova’s goal is to propagate the narrative that “war is Putin’s work, and ordinary Russians (who support the invasion) are not to blame for it.”
The world media learned about the existence of Marina Owsiannikova in mid-March, when a recording of a live program broadcast on the Russian Pervy Kanał TV appeared on social media. Behind the presenter’s back, a woman unexpectedly appeared who she was holding a poster that read “no war” (not for war). The banner also read: “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. Everyone is lying here.”
In conversations with journalists, Owsiannikowa maintained that “Russia is the aggressor, “what happens in Ukraineis a crime, and she could no longer remain silent. “After her demonstration, which took place after the introduction of strict regulations in Russia on” disseminating false information about the Russian army “, it was expected that she would at least be arrested or, in the worse case, to However, this did not happen.The woman was brought before a court, but was only fined 30,000 rubles.
At that time, Owsiannikowa’s gesture caused great emotions, and her speech was received ambiguously. Ukrainian MP Roman Hryszczuk doubted the spontaneity of her behavior and suggested that it could be “an element of planned Russian propaganda directed to the West.” Why? One of the reasons – in his opinion – was the inscription on the poster in English, which is not used by the Russians or Ukrainians on a daily basis.
The career of Ovsiannikova, who worked for several years as a news editor on the Russian state television, took an unexpected course. After leaving Russia received an offer to work with the German “Die Welt”. She was supposed to write texts on Russia and Ukraine. It was for this very purpose that it appeared in Kiev at the end of May.
On May 31, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency announced that on June 1 a press conference led by Ovsiannikova on “Russian propaganda activities” would be held in its press center.
The announcement of the conference sparked a wave of indignation. The editor-in-chief of the well-known Detektor Media portal Natalia Ligacheva, which publishes analyzes about Ukrainian media, said that Ovsiannikova’s appearance in Kiev was “inappropriate and unacceptable for Ukrainian citizens and journalists.” Ligaczowa also called for the conference to be canceled. It also happened.
The head of the Interfax-Ukraine agency, Oleksandr Martynenko, said that the conference was canceled due to “negative publicity”. – I expected that there would be publicity, but I thought that if our journalists came and told her (Owsiannikowa) in the face what they thought about her, it would not be so bad, especially for her – he explained in an interview with the portal of the weekly “Nowoje Vriemia” “Martynenko.
Relations with Odessa and Kiev
In early June, Owsiannikova published several posts on Facebook about traveling in Ukraine. She told about her visit to Odessa, calling it “home city”. She reported that almost half of Odessa’s inhabitants have left and the rest “live in constant fear”. Owsiannikowa also wrote about warnings against air raids on Ukrainian cities. She showed a line for gas in Kiev, adding that Moscow residents “find it difficult to understand the problems Ukrainians have to deal with in their daily lives.”
“I was impressed by the curfew. The morning silence, empty streets and sirens wailing ominously. So far I can’t get over the feeling, how is it possible, a war in the 21st century? I want to cry because of helplessness” – reported Owsiannikowa.
Numerous comments, mostly negative, quickly appeared under her entries. Their authors recalled that Ovsiannikova had been working on state television for many years and spread propaganda, and that there was no place for her in Ukraine. Some have advised “go in the direction of Russian ship“She replied that” the Russians must know what is really going on in Ukraine. “She wrote that” she has the right to come to the country where she was born, where her cousins live and where her father’s grave is. ”
The authors of some of the comments had a grudge against the Ukrainian security services that “let Owsiannikova into the country”.
The journalist of the well-known portal Slidstwo.Info Dmytro Repliańczuk said that Ovsiannikova’s visit is “a planned information and psychological special operation that Russian services are successfully carrying out in the very heart of Ukraine”. “The goal is very simple: on the one hand, provoking Ukrainians to legitimate aggression, the consequence of which will be an attack on a (formally) German journalist. On the other hand, promoting a propaganda narrative in Ukraine that it is Putin’s war and ordinary Russians are not to blame,” he stressed.
The image of a dissident
The Center for Counteracting Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine recognized Ovsiannikova as “a new agent of the Kremlin’s influence created at an accelerated pace.” “Having obtained the image of a dissident favorable to the West, she began to work out the set task of promoting a narrative about the need to lift sanctions against the Russian Federation,” she claims.
“The former propagandist quite successfully promotes the thesis that Russophobia is unacceptable and that the Russians should not be collectively responsible for Putin’s actions,” assessed the center.
At the end of May, Owsiannikowa was awarded The Vaclav Havel Prize. Ukrainian journalists did not hide their disappointment because of this, emphasizing, among other things, that it was “an insult to the name of Havel”.
Thanks to “Macron, Zelenskiy and American politicians”
On Tuesday, on Facebook, Owsiannikova published another entry in which she stated that she “does not demand the lifting of Western sanctions against Russia and does not cooperate with the Russian Federal Security Service.” When asked why she was released from custody, she replied that it was thanks to “Macron, Zelensky and American politicians”.
Owsiannikowa argued that she was not “a propagandist, she never wrote propaganda texts or broadcast them”.
“War is our collective responsibility. It was not Putin who killed people in Bucza and bombed the maternity hospital in Mariupol. It was done by specific war criminals,” she added. She also referred to her earlier claims that “her Ukrainian father and Russian mother were never enemies.” “We are not fraternal nations. This thesis is actively promoted by Putin, but Ukraine has its own way. I am not a ‘good Russian’. I am Ukrainian. As a sign of support for Ukraine, I intend to change the name of Owsiannikov to my family name, Tkaczuk,” she declared.
Main photo source: Rex Features / East News