Former Russian state television reporter Marina Ovsyannikova, accused of spreading “fake news” about the war in Ukraine, has fled the country after escaping house arrest, her lawyer said on Monday.
Ovsyannikova is currently “under the protection of a European state,” lawyer Dmitri Zakhvatov said, declining to give further details as “it may be a problem” for her.
Ovsyannikova grabbed the world’s attention in March when she stormed into the studio during a live television broadcast with a banner reading “stop the war” and “you are being lied to.” The Kremlin denounced her protest as “troublemaker”.
The 44-year-old woman was sentenced in August to two months of house arrest for a protest that took place in July, when she stood on a river embankment in front of the Kremlin and showed a poster calling the Russian president a murderer, Vladimir Putin, and fascists to his soldiers.
Ovsyannikova, who faces up to 10 years in prison on charges of spreading false news about the Russian military, stated in an online post on October 5 that she had fled house arrest because she had no case to answer to. Since then her whereabouts have been unknown.
Zakhvatov said Ovsyannikova’s daughter left the country with her, while her son remained in Russia. He refused to say where she was, but told Reuters: “Everything will be made public soon. We need a couple of weeks.”
Russia passed new laws against discrediting or distributing “deliberately false information” about the military on March 4, eight days after invading Ukraine.