Cracks of Resistance in Russia as Attempts to Cover Up Ukraine War Fail

A Russian state television employee who stormed the set of a live news show with an anti-war placard is the latest and perhaps highest-profile act of defiance to date within Russia against President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Marina Ovsyannikova made a dramatic intervention during a bulletin read by Ekaterina Andreeva, who has been described as Putin's favorite news anchor.

On Monday, Ovsyannikova shouted over the presenter and held up a sign that read, in Russian: "No to war, stop the war, don't believe propaganda, here they lie to you." Underneath, it said in English: "Russians against war."

"I was astonished, I was amazed and all my friends were watching it live, they didn't expect it to come. It was so unbelievably brave," Dmitry Yelovsky, deputy editor in chief of the now-closed independent channel TV Rain, told BBC radio's Today program on Tuesday.

"Channel 1 is one of two largest state-owned TV channels," he said, "[Andreeva] is said to be the favorite TV host of Vladimir Putin, so millions of people have seen what Ovsyannikova did last night."

Novaya Gazeta, one of the last bastions of independent media left in Russia after a clampdown by media watchdog Roskomnadzor, covered the story of Ovsyannikova in a carefully worded article that did not fall foul of the authorities and blurred out most of the words on her image.

However, the publication has reported a number of cases in which ordinary Russians have shown their resistance to the war, which has to be described domestically as a "military operation."

Police visited the home of a 12-year-old schoolboy in Moscow after he expressed concern about the war and shouted "Glory to Ukraine" outside a classroom, the paper reported.

In another incident, documented by Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), a 28-year-old geography teacher from school 498 in Moscow was suspended after he posted an Instagram message on March 8 in which he said: "I don't want to be a mirror of state propaganda."

Journalist and broadcaster Yevgenia Albats, whose outlets have been blocked by the Russian authorities, said Russians can only access impartial information about the war from virtual private networks, but there has been a shift in public opinion.

"Russian public opinion is slowly but surely getting it. It is getting that the Russian government and Russian troops are waging a war of choice and conquest in Ukraine right now," she told the UK's Channel 4 News.

Jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny has called for Russians to take to the streets to oppose the war in Ukraine, but this comes with considerable risk.

As of Tuesday, 14,923 people had been detained across the country, according to OVD-Info, which documents political arrests.

"Mass detentions and other types of persecution of those who oppose the "special operation" are taking place against the backdrop of a large-scale state campaign to strengthen censorship and propaganda," OVD-Info said in a report.

Russia protest
A man looks at a computer screen watching a dissenting Russian Channel One employee entering Ostankino on-air TV studio. She is holding up a poster which reads as "No War" and condemning Moscow's military action in Ukraine in Moscow on March 14, 2022. Getty Images