Marina Ovsyannikova says she still fears for her life after ‘chaotic’ escape to France

Marina Ovsyannikova, the former Russian state TV editor who famously interrupted a live news broadcast to protest against the start of the Ukraine war, has described her “chaotic” escape from house arrest in Moscow and how she fled across Europe to seek asylum in France. “I didn’t want to emigrate until the very last moment,” Ovsyannikova said at a Paris press conference with the journalists’ organisation Reporters without Borders. “Russia is still my country, even if war criminals have power there. But I had no choice – it was either prison or exile. I’m very grateful to France, a free country, to have welcomed me.”

Christophe Deloire, the secretary general of Reporters without Borders, which helped organise the escape under the codename “Evelyne”, likened it to “the most famous crossings of the Berlin Wall”.

The Ukrainian-born Ovsyannikova, 44, gained international attention in March after bursting into a studio of Channel One, her then-employer, during a live news bulletin to denounce the Ukraine war, holding a poster reading “no war”. At the time, she was fined 30,000 roubles (£460) for ignoring protest laws.

She continued protesting against the war after quitting her job at Channel One. Last August, she was charged with spreading false information about the Russian army for holding up a poster that read “Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists” during a solo protest on the Moskva River embankment opposite the Kremlin. She was subsequently forced to wear an electronic ankle bracelet and placed under house arrest in Moscow, where she was to await trial. She faced up to 10 years in prison if found guilty….