A woman identified as an employee of one of Russia's state-owned networks interrupted her channel's main news broadcast holding up a sign saying "No War" and telling viewers not to believe the station's "propaganda" as millions watched on Monday night.
The woman was identified on Monday as Marina Ovsyannikova, an employee of the Russian state-owned network Channel One, by independent human rights group OVD-info. The group said Ovsyannikova was detained after the protest, and it's unclear where she now is being held.
Ovsyannikova walked out during the live broadcast with the sign reading "No War" in English and held it up in the background as news anchor Yekaterina Andreyeva was talking about Western sanctions against Russia.
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Ovsyannikova also appeared in a video released by OVD-info on Monday, saying that "what's happening in Ukraine right now is a true crime and Russia is the aggressor."
She adds that "the responsibility for this crime lies only on the conscience of one person, and that person is Vladimir Putin."
Ovsyannikova, who says in the video that her father is Ukrainian and her mother is Russian, wears a necklace with the colors of the flags of both countries.
She says she has been working at Channel One "creating Kremlin propaganda" and that she is "very ashamed of it."
Ovsyannikova then urges others to "come out to protest, don’t be afraid of anything. They can’t arrest every one of us."
Her protest comes after Putin signed a law earlier this month that criminalizes what the Kremlin calls "fake news" with up to 15 years in prison. More than 150 journalists from around the world have left Russia since the invasion of Ukraine began last month, according to the Russian investigative news website Agentsvo.
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Her video statement was released before Ovsyannikova interrupted the television broadcast around 9 p.m. local time in Moscow.
Her protest drew the notice of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who responded in a video message of his own.
"I’m thankful to those Russians who don’t stop trying to deliver the truth, who are fighting against disinformation and tell real facts to their friends and families, and personally to that woman who went in the studio of Channel One with an anti-war poster," he said.
Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, called the protest unprecedented.
"I don’t remember anything ever like this," he told NBC senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson on TODAY Tuesday. “This is not supposed to happen in authoritarian regimes.
"I think it sends a very inspirational signal that there are people willing to risk years in jail, to try to stop Putin’s war inside Russia," McFaul continued. "I think that’s important for the West to understand, too.”