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Russian TV employee who staged on-air protest says she was interrogated for more than 14 hours

“I was in a rather tough situation,” Marina Ovsyannikova told reporters outside a Moscow courthouse.
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The Russian TV employee who interrupted a widely viewed evening news broadcast holding a “No war” sign told reporters Tuesday that authorities interrogated her for more than 14 hours. 

The Channel One employee, identified by Russian rights-monitoring group OVD-Info as Marina Ovsyannikova, said that after being taken into custody she was denied access to a lawyer and barred from contacting her family.

“I was in a rather tough situation,” she said outside a Moscow courthouse, according to an NBC News translation. “All the comments will be made tomorrow. I just need to rest today.” 

A judge fined Ovsyannikova 30,000 rubles, or $280, for flouting protest laws, according to Reuters.

Her lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, the Kremlin made it a crime punishable by 15 years in prison to promote what it described as “fake news” by calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “war.”

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed Ovsyannikova’s protest as “hooliganism,” saying in a daily news briefing with reporters that her brief demonstration was not on his agenda.

Speaking in English, Ovsyannikova told reporters that the protest was her own “anti-war" decision. 

During the broadcast, she could be seen standing behind a newscaster holding a sign and telling viewers not to believe the state-run channel’s “propaganda.”

The channel’s newscasters have described the invasion is a special military operation that aims to “denazify” Ukraine, a phrase Russian officials have promoted.  

In a pre-recorded video released by a human rights group Monday, Ovsyannikova said that her father is Ukrainian and her mother is Russian.

“They were never enemies,” she said, adding that she was “ashamed” to have contributed to the Kremlin’s propaganda at Channel One.