It’s been a hard couple of months for Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian state TV journalist who burst onto an evening newscast in March holding up a banner against her nation’s actions in Ukraine, telling the channel’s millions of viewers that state TV was lying to them.
She has no job, she is living off the money she made from selling her car and she is in the middle of a fierce custody battle with her ex-husband who works at the Kremlin’s English language channel, Russia Today.
It is an attack from all sides.
“My mum supports Putin, my son has been brainwashed by his father plus I’m being criticised by the supporters of the special military operation who troll me,” she says.
“Part of the opposition troll me too. They call me a former propagandist. Plus, even the Ukrainians are speaking out against me because they believe all these fakes and conspiracy theories.
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“They believe that the broadcast wasn’t live and that I’m working for the FSB.”
The FSB theory, that Marina is working for Russia’s secret services, has a life of its own across Russian and Ukrainian social media.
She has continued to protest Russia’s actions in Ukraine, but so far has got away relatively unscathed, with just fines on administrative charges.
Despite the fact she stood outside the Kremlin two weeks ago with a banner calling Vladimir Putin a murderer, she has yet to face any comeback for it. Others have not got off so lightly.
“It’s a complete lie! How can I be an agent? I’m a normal Russian woman who expressed her position as a citizen and they are trying to discredit me from every side.
“It’s good for the Kremlin to spread all kinds of conspiracy theories so that people don’t believe me. That’s the main point – I’m a ‘fake’ and they shouldn’t believe me.”
Ovsyannikova left for Germany shortly after her appearance on state TV. She was offered a job with the German daily Die Welt but that’s come to an end and she returned to Russia when her ex-husband sued for custody of their two children.
“My daughter called me every day asking, ‘when are you coming back, Mummy?’ I want to see you’. My husband, who’s working for the Kremlin, he was turning them against me. I realised that I’m losing contact with them and if I didn’t return, I would simply lose my children.
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“Besides, every voice that speaks out against the war from inside Russia is much stronger than if a person protests from abroad.”
She says her decision to stay with state TV as long as she did was borne from the necessity of having to look after two children after a painful divorce.
But she had hoped that more former colleagues would follow her example and quit.
“After seeing what happened to me, most of them realised that they would become enemies to everyone and that is why they lay low, they prefer not to stick their heads out or to ask any moral questions.
“They are just quietly sitting there, working for the money.”
They don’t like her either. Outside the courtroom, the first question she gets is hostile.
“What does it feel like to betray your motherland?”
Ovsyannikova cuts a lonely figure. But it’s the cross she has to bear, and she says she doesn’t regret what she’s done.
“I’m holding up, because within me I know that I’m right. I have this strong core and I’m not giving up.”