On March 14, Ovsyannikova became famous when she interrupted a live broadcast on Pervy Kanal, the main Russian channel where she worked, with a banner against the attack launched by Vladimir Putin.
The gesture went around the world and changed his life. After this episode, at first he announced that he would stay in Russia, but he moved to Germany and worked for Die Welt newspaper for three months.
In her absence, her ex-husband, an employee of the pro-Kremlin RT network, took custody of her two children to court to prevent him from taking them out of the country. It was for this reason that the 44-year-old journalist made the “difficult decision” to return to Russia in early July, he told AFP.
“I decided to play Russian chilly,” she says, dressed in an elegant black dress and sitting on a bench in central Moscow, after dropping her daughter off for summer lessons at a private school.
After living in comfort and working on state television for 19 years, he is one of the latest voices in Russia to publicly condemn the conflict in Ukraine.
Other influential critics remain in prison, keeping a low profile or opting for exile. “I am a fighter, I continue to condemn the war, I don’t want to stop, I am not afraid despite threats,” says Ovsianikova.
Since his return from exile, he has supported jailed opposition figure Ilya Yachin, demonstrated near the Kremlin with a banner accusing Putin of being a “murderer,” and continues to post online messages denouncing the regime.
Despite the risks, he continues to participate in news programs broadcast by Russian adversaries on social media. Because of his criticism, he was briefly detained by police near his home in mid-July and fined at two hearings for statements against the Ukrainian offensive.
This Monday, August 8, the journalist will go on trial again for “discrediting” the military, not to mention the trial holding her children.
In addition, Ovsianikova suffers from hostility from the Russian and Ukrainian opposition on the one hand, which accuses her of being a propagandist in Moscow, and from pro-Kremlin forces, on the other hand, who consider her a traitor to Russia. Others accuse her of acting for opportunism, her career, or to gain international exposure. Ovsyannikova quietly denies the allegations.
“For power, it’s useful to constantly create conspiracy theories against me, and people don’t know who to trust anymore,” he says.
The journalist admits to making mistakes like staying “too long” in her bubble without “finding the strength” to change jobs. According to her, this passivity and indifference adopted by many Russians is a form of “self-preservation” fueled by fear.
“Our people are very afraid. Even those who understand all the absurdities and horrors that are happening want to remain silent,” he believes, adding that Russians criticize power “in their kitchens,” protected from prying ears. Soviet Union.
Ovsyannikova also recalls that she lives in a “jealous” situation, facing threats from all sides and a “family war”. But he insists his problems are “trivial” compared to the plight of Ukrainians.
It remains to be seen whether his activism will earn him a prosecution for “spreading false information” about the military, which carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Dozens of people have already been prosecuted in Russia for this reason.