Journalist who protested on Russian TV describes escape to France

Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian journalist who protested against the invasion of Ukraine live on television, gives a press conference at Reporters Without Borders in Paris on Friday.

PARIS (AFP-Jiji) — The Russian journalist who grabbed the world’s attention last year when she protested against the war in Ukraine on live television, described her “extraordinary” escape to France on Friday.

Marina Ovsyannikova, who was facing 10 years in prison, fled Russia in October just before being sentenced.

The former editor at Channel One made global headlines in March when she barged onto the set of its flagship Vremya (Time) evening news, holding a poster reading “No War.”

She was assisted in her escape by the France-based Reporters Without Borders, using seven different vehicles and walking across the border into a forest at night.

“We had to navigate by the stars and it was a real challenge,” she told a press conference at the RSF headquarters in Paris.

“We were hiding from the lights of border guards and tractors that were circulating but we finally succeeded and reached the border.”

The 44-year-old mother of two, who had been under house arrest and had to cut through an electronic bracelet during her escape, said she had been reluctant to leave Russia.

“It was still my country, even if war criminals have taken power, but they didn’t give me a choice — it was either prison or emigration,” she said.

French President Emmanuel Macron had offered Ovsyannikova asylum a day after her TV protest and she is now living between various safe houses in France with her daughter.