Anti-war protester interrupts live Russian state news broadcast to denounce invasion of Ukraine

“Stop the war. Do not believe propaganda they tell you lies here,” the sign reads. “Russians against war,” the last line of the sign says in English.

The woman who carried out the bold act of defiance was identified as Maria Ovsyannikova, an employee of Russia Channel One, according to OVD-Info, an independent human rights protest-monitoring group. The outlet’s content is tightly controlled by the Russian government.

CNN cannot independently verify the woman holding the sign is Ovsyannikova, but photos on social media profiles bearing her name match the woman seen on screen.

Russian state news agency TASS confirmed OVD-Info’s reporting, citing a source, and added that she could face prosecution.

Friends of Ovsyannikova told OVD-Info she was at the Ostankino Police Department in Moscow, but her lawyer, Dmitry Zakhvatov, later told CNN he could not locate her.

“We didn’t find her for now, but we are continuing to search,” Zakhvatov said.

The act of protest came nearly three weeks after Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine, setting off a humanitarian disaster in the country and triggering the greatest security crisis in Europe since the Cold War.
Satellite images show widespread destruction from Russian bombings across Ukraine, including the major cities of Kyiv and Mariupol. More than 2,500 civilians have died in Mariupol alone, Ukrainian officials estimate. More than 2.8 million residents have fled the country since the invasion began, according to United Nations refugee estimates.

OVD-Info also obtained a video purportedly made by Ovsyannikova before she interrupted the news broadcast.

“What is happening now in Ukraine is a crime, and Russia is the aggressor country, and the responsibility for this aggression lies on the conscience of only one person. This man is Vladimir Putin,” Ovsyannikova says in the video, noting that her father is Ukrainian, and her mother is Russian.

“Unfortunately, for the past few years, I have been working on Channel One and doing Kremlin propaganda, and now I am very ashamed of it,” she says in the video. “It’s a shame that I allowed to speak lies from the TV screens, ashamed that I allowed to zombify Russian people.”

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“I am ashamed that we kept silent in 2014, when all this was just beginning,” she says, a reference to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine that resulted in the annexation of Crimea. “We didn’t go to rallies when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny, we just silently watched this anti-human regime and now the world has turned its back on us forever, and another ten generations of our descendants will not be able to wash away from the shame of this fraternal war. “

“We are Russian people, thinking and smart, and it is only in our power to stop all this madness,” she says. “Go to the rallies and do not be afraid! They can’t transplant us all!”

Videos of the interruption were quickly posted on social media after it aired. CNN obtained the video from a live feed of Russia Channel One VK’s profile.

Within minutes, that live feed was removed.

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