• A Russian court fined former TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova for her anti-war social media posts.
  • In March, she burst onto a live TV set with an anti-Ukraine war message emblazoned on a sign.
  • She was fined $820 on Thursday for social media comments she later made about the invasion.

Marina Ovsyannikova, a former Russian state TV journalist known for interrupting a live broadcast to protest the Ukraine war, was fined $820 this week on a charge of discrediting the nation's army on social media.

A Moscow court ruled on Thursday that the Russian anchor broke the law by writing social media posts, in which she said those responsible for the invasion would find themselves on trial before an international tribunal, Reuters reported.

Ovsyannikova told the court that she didn't understand why she had been charged, and refused to withdraw her comments, Reuters reported. The Russian court also dismissed her lawyer's arguments that the journalist had the right to freedom of expression under Article 29 of the Russian constitution, per Reuters.

Russia has cracked down on anti-war protests and online networks spreading information about the invasion of Ukraine since its attack began on February 24. In March, just weeks after the invasion kicked off, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that criminalized all opposition to the Ukraine war, effectively banning the use of the word "war" to describe the conflict.

Russia also passed a law the same month that prohibits "discrediting" its armed forces, making it a crime now punishable by up to 15 years in prison or a 5 million ruble fine — the charge that Ovsyannikova was convicted on.

"What's going on here is absurd," Ovsyannikova said in court, per Reuters. "War is horror, blood, and shame."

She added that the court's accusations were akin to accusing her of "spreading monkeypox."

"The purpose of the trial is to intimidate all the people who oppose the war in the Russian Federation," Ovsyannikova said. Maintaining her anti-war stance, she added that the war was "the biggest crime" ever perpetrated by the Russian government.

The ex-editor said she would appeal the fine, and told journalists outside the court that authorities "haven't managed to intimidate me," the BBC reported.

Ovsyannikova made headlines in March after she burst onto a live broadcast of state-controlled Channel One — her employer — holding a sign that read "Don't believe the propaganda," and "They are lying to you here."

"Stop the war! No to war! Stop the war! No to war!" she yelled over the anchor, before the channel cut away from the studio.

In an interview with CNN at the time, Ovsyannikova said the Ukraine invasion reminded her of airstrikes in Chechnya as a child, making it "impossible to stay silent."

"I have been feeling a cognitive dissonance, more and more, between my beliefs and what we say on air," Ovsyannikova said on CNN. "It was a brewing sense of dissatisfaction that kept increasing every year."

"And I realized we would have to do something, or we will reach a point of no return, and it will be more and more difficult to do anything," she continued.

For that on-air protest, Ovsyannikova was fined 30,000 rubles in March, which was worth around $280 at the time.

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