Marina Ovsyannikova, who opposed Russia’s engagement in Ukraine during a live TV broadcast, realised that returning to Moscow would be like playing Russian roulette.
In an interview with AFP, the 44-year-old mother of two, who returned from Europe last month, said she was aware that she may be detained at any time.
“I chose to play Russian roulette,” the former Channel One television editor remarked, sitting on a bench in central Moscow in a beautiful black gown.
Ovsyannikova rose to popularity in March after interrupting a live television show to condemn President Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine.
In the months following her protest, Ovsyannikova worked for Germany’s Die Welt for three months.
Her ex-husband, an employee of Kremlin-backed network RT, sued her for custody of their two children in early July, prompting her to make the “tough decision” to come home.
Ovsyannikova has been fined numerous times since her widely publicised protest, and she is scheduled to appear in court again on Monday for disparaging the Russian army.
She will also be present during custody hearings.
Public criticism of Russia’s engagement in Ukraine is now illegal, and most government critics have either fled the country for fear of punishment or ended up behind prison.
However, Ovsyannikova stated that she will continue to speak out.
“I am a fighter, and I will continue to aggressively oppose the war,” she stated enthusiastically.
“I have no intention of stopping, and despite the government’ relentless harassment, I am not terrified.”
‘Putin the murderer’
Ovsyannikova has appeared in court to assist opposition politician Ilya Yashin, has staged a protest with a placard calling Putin a “murderer,” and has published anti-government posts online since her return. In the middle of July, she was briefly held by police near her home.
Ovsyannikova, who is unemployed, works as a freelancer for foreign media. The majority of Russia’s independent media outlets are either closed or operate from abroad.
The journalist, who had worked for state television for 19 years, revealed that she had recently sold her automobile to get some additional cash.
Many people have reacted angrily to her protest.
Pro-Kremlin authorities and former colleagues have accused Ovsyannikova of betraying her nation. Critics in Ukraine and the West have alleged she is a spy who is still ingrained in Russian state media.
Many members of Russia’s opposition have accused her of jumping ship in an opportunistic move in search of celebrity.
Ovsyannikova denies the charges.
“It is convenient for the government to constantly develop fresh conspiracy theories about me; people already don’t know what to believe,” she explained.
Ovsyannikova, on the other hand, admitted to making mistakes in the past and staying “too long” in her comfort zone without “finding the strength” to quit state television sooner.
Inaction and apathy, which many Russians embrace, are a type of “self-preservation” motivated by fear, according to her.
According to her, many Russians now criticise authorities only “in their kitchens,” where no one can hear them.
Ovsyannikova claimed she had to fight a “war at home” in addition to facing criticism in Russia and overseas.
She said that her mother was a victim of state propaganda, that her son had turned against her, and that she had to struggle for custody of her children.
“My fate is dreadful,” Ovsyannikova admitted.
She emphasised, however, that her issues paled in comparison to the plight of the Ukrainian people, who have been subjected to an attack that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions.
Authorities have not announced the launch of any criminal inquiry into Ovsyannikova. However, her repeated convictions for disparaging the Russian army may result in a criminal conviction, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Ovsyannikova believes that authorities will be hesitant to attract additional attention to her case, citing her “strong international backing.”
She stated that she would like to be able to leave the country with her daughter.
For the time being, she will remain in Russia.
She is fully aware that official pressure on her will increase.
“They’ll intimidate me even more,” she remarked.
She used an old Soviet term to say that Putin’s authority could punish almost anyone.
“Give me the person, and I’ll discover the crime.”