Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, known for her bold anti-war protest on Russian state TV, has been suspected of poisoning. The incident has triggered an investigation by French police.
Paris, France, October 13, 2023 – French authorities have initiated an investigation into the mysterious illness of exiled Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who gained international fame for her anti-war protest on Russian state television in March 2022. Ovsyannikova held up a sign during a live evening news broadcast, denouncing war and urging viewers not to believe the propaganda.
The journalist, who is 44 years old and employed by Russian state television “Channel One,” had been living in France since she fled Russia in October 2022. She fled the country with her 11-year-old daughter, seeking asylum after facing arrest and fines for her protest actions. During a February press conference in Paris, she expressed her fear for her life, citing warnings from Russian friends about potential poisoning or accidents.
Ovsyannikova’s recent health scare occurred as she left her Paris apartment and discovered a powdery substance on her door. While initial tests did not reveal any toxic substances in her blood, the circumstances surrounding her illness have raised concerns. Christophe Deloire, from the organization “Reporters Without Borders,” which assisted Ovsyannikova in her escape from Russia, confirmed the incident and mentioned that members of the organization were supporting her during this ordeal.
Depuis son malaise en pleine rue ce matin, l’équipe de @RSF_inter a été auprès de la « journaliste russe à la pancarte » Marina Ovsiannikova. Le parquet de Paris a ouvert une enquête pour suspicion d’empoisonnement. Pas d’éléments particuliers à ce stade. Nous vous tiendrons… pic.twitter.com/XROZUrfpD1— Christophe Deloire (@cdeloire) October 12, 2023
Notably, Ovsyannikova had been arrested and fined shortly after her on-screen protest in March 2022. She faced another arrest in July of the same year, charged with spreading fake news. Her decision to flee Russia was supported by international organizations concerned about her safety.
If the suspected poisoning is confirmed, it will follow a pattern of similar incidents involving exiled Russian journalists. Three other exiled Russian journalists have reported symptoms such as skin inflammation, extreme weakness, stomach pain, anxiety attacks, metallic taste in the mouth, and skin discoloration. These cases are currently under investigation as attempted murder.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has faced allegations of involvement in such attacks on his opponents living abroad in the past, although the Kremlin has consistently denied any involvement in these incidents.