French prosecutors have launched an investigation into the suspected poisoning of a Russian journalist, Marina Ovsyannikova, who had fled Russia after publicly denouncing the war in Ukraine during a live television broadcast.
“Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here,” read a sign held by Ovsyannikova behind the anchor of an evening news broadcast on Russian state television Channel One in March 2022.
This bold act led to her being charged with disparaging the Russian military. She faced a fine of 30,000 rubles, equivalent to $270 at that time. Ovsyannikova continued her activism, staging a protest near the Kremlin in July 2022. Authorities detained her and placed her under house arrest. She managed to escape and sought refuge in France with her daughter.
The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed that Ovsyannikova called emergency services after feeling unwell upon leaving her Paris apartment. She expressed suspicions of being poisoned. Police have initiated a thorough examination of her residence, and the investigation is in progress.
Reporters Without Borders, an international media watchdog group that played a crucial role in helping Ovsyannikova flee Russia and resettle in France, stated that its team has been “at her side” since she sought medical assistance. The organization, also known by its French acronym RSF, did not provide additional details regarding the incident.
Ovsyannikova’s actions have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this month, a Moscow court sentenced her in absentia to 8 1/2 years in prison. The charge was spreading false information about the Russian army. This sentencing is a stark representation of the escalating crackdown on dissent in Russia. This suppression has grown significantly since the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine approximately 20 months ago. Observers note that the magnitude of this crackdown is unparalleled in the history of post-Soviet Russia.
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