On March 14, the news and social networks reported a short video, just 5 seconds long, in which journalist Marina Ovsiannikova burst onto the set of the Russian television news program Pervi Kanal with a sign against the war and denouncing the manipulation of the Russian population by the Kremlin, regarding the war in Ukraine.
This is an image of the video, in which she is seen behind the news anchor, showing her message:
In the context of an intense repression of freedom of expression in Russia, where any information that contradicts the Kremlin’s official doctrine is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, this courageous act takes on even more significance. The journalist, a few moments after making this significant protest, posted a video explaining her decision, in which she said:
“What is happening in Ukraine is a crime. Russia is an aggressor country and the responsibility for this aggression rests on the conscience of only one person. That person is Vladimir Putin. My father is Ukrainian, my mother is Russian, and they’ve never been enemies. This necklace I’m wearing is a symbol of that fact that Russia must immediately end this fratricidal war and our fraternal peoples will still be able to reconcile. Unfortunately, I’ve spent the last few years working for Channel One, doing Kremlin propaganda, and I’m very ashamed of this. Ashamed that I allowed lies to be broadcast from TV screens.
Ashamed that I allowed others to zombify Russian people. We were silent in 2014 when all this started. We didn’t protest when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny. We just silently watched this inhuman regime at work. And now the whole world has turned its back on us. And the next 10 generations won’t wash away the stain of this fratricidal war. We Russians are thinking and intelligent people.
It’s in our power alone to stop all this madness. Go protest. Don’t be afraid of anything. They can’t lock us all away.”
Standing up for the truth can cost a lot, even one’s life. We Christians have countless examples of this, not only from the time of the early Christians, but today as well. Pope Benedict XVI had said that “At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith” (Message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2011). Even so, the truth is for every Christian an inescapable duty, whatever the cost. And for a Vincentian, the defense of truth, especially the defense of those who are oppressed by the “powers of the world,” is etched in our identity.
May the example of this journalist encourage us all to work for justice and defend the truth.