Ex-journalist accused of “fake news” on Ukraine war has fled Russia – lawyer

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Oct 17 (Reuters) – Former Russian state TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, accused of spreading “fake news” about the war in Ukraine, has fled the country after escaping from house arrest, her lawyer said on Monday.

Ovsyannikova is currently “under the protection of a European state”, lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov said, declining to elaborate as “it may turn out to be a problem” for her.

Ovsyannikova captured world attention in March when she burst into the studio during a live TV broadcast with a placard that read “Stop the war” and “They’re lying to you”. The Kremlin denounced her protest as “hooliganism”.

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The 44-year-old was given two months’ house arrest in August over a protest in July when she stood on a river embankment opposite the Kremlin and held up a poster calling President Vladimir Putin a murderer and his soldiers fascists.

Facing up to 10 years in prison on charges of spreading fake news about the Russian army, Ovsyannikova said in an online post on Oct. 5 she had fled house arrest because she had no case to answer. Her whereabouts since then have been unknown.

Zakhvatov said that Ovsyannikova’s daughter left the country with her, while her son remained in Russia. He declined to say where she was but told Reuters: “Soon everything will be made public. We need a couple of weeks.”

Russia passed new laws against discrediting or distributing “deliberately false information” about the armed forces on March 4, eight days after invading Ukraine.

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Reporting by Filipp Lebedev and Caleb Davis; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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