Russian journalists are quitting state-run media after editor flashed anti-war sign live on air

Journalists from RT, NTV and Channel One have all resigned

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 17 March 2022 15:04 GMT
Marina Ovsyannikova: TV protest 'was my own decision'

Several high-profile journalists employed by Russian state media have resigned following the dramatic anti-war protest carried out by a producer live on air on one of the country’s state-run channels earlier this week.

Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor for state-run broadcaster Channel One, flashed an anti-war sign that said “Stop the war!” and interrupted the broadcast by saying “They’re lying to you here” live on TV.

Now other journalists are taking action. Zhanna Agalakova, Ms Ovsyannikova’s Channel one colleague, has resigned as Paris correspondent after being employed by the state-run channel since 1999. Her resignation, which she termed “freedom”, will be effective from Friday.

“The reason is obvious,” she told independent news website Meduza Project. “My freedom begins Friday, I’m awaiting this moment.”

Lilia Gildeyeva, an anchor for the state-owned NTV channel, also resigned. She worked for the channel since 2006.

She said she had left the country before submitting the resignation, fearing possible restrictions on movement.

“I left [Russia] first because I was afraid they would not let me go just like that, then I submitted my resignation,” she told independent Russian journalist and well-known blogger Ilya Varlamov.

Vadim Glusker was another journalist who resigned from NTV this month as Russia’s offensive against Ukraine continued.

Apart from the three resignations at NTV and Channel One, chief editor Maria Baronova of RT, formerly known as Russia Today, also resigned from the channel.

Several foreign reporters who worked for RT quit during the invasion as well, including London correspondent Shadia Edwards-Dashti, who quit on the day the invasion started without giving a reason.

French presenter Frédéric Taddeï and Moscow-based Jonny Tickle, both employed by RT, have also quit.

The growing opposition in the country for its ongoing war against Ukraine has come even as Vladimir Putin has attempted to stifle opposition to war by enacting a law to punish anyone who spreads what they deem “false news” about its Ukraine invasion. Those who resist can face upto 15 years of imprisonment.

The country’s independent media has also come under mounting pressure.

The entire staff of Russia’s Dozhd (TV Rain) walked out live on air after they declared “no to war” in its last telecast, because of the Ukraine invasion. The channel played the ‘Swan Lake’ ballet video in its last telecast. The video had also been shown on state-run TV channels in Russia after the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991.

Talk show host Ivan Urgant has also taken a sabbatical from hosting his prime-time Evening Urgant show on Channel One after posting an anti-war message on Instagram that said: “Fear and pain. No war”.

Ms Ovsyannikova was detained and questioned for 14 hours before being fined 30,000 roubles (£214) on a charge of organising an unauthorised public event.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky thanked her in one of his addresses and urged all the people who think are working for “Russia’s propaganda system” to resign.

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