Maria Ovsyannikova, editor of Channel One, stood behind a news anchor on the air with a poster board written in English and Russian.
The sign reads, “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda that tells you a lie here.” The Russians against the war.
The Kremlin on Tuesday called Ovsyannikova’s actions a “riot”, a criminal offense in Russia.
“The channel and officials are dealing with it,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Friends of Ovsyannikova told OVD-Info, an independent group monitoring human rights protests, that she was in the Ostankino police department in Moscow, but her lawyer says he still does not know her whereabouts.
Dmitry Zakvatov told CNN on Tuesday that he has been trying to locate her since her protest. Zakvatov confirmed to CNN that Ovsyannikova is the woman seen on air holding the banner and that she is working as the channel’s editor.
“We haven’t found it at the moment, but we’re continuing to search,” Zakvatov said.
Russia’s state news agency TASS reported that law enforcement officials have launched a preliminary investigation into the “public dissemination of deliberately false information about the use of the Russian armed forces.”
OVD-Info also obtained a video allegedly filmed by Ovsyannikova before she cut off the news broadcast.
“What is happening now in Ukraine is a crime, Russia is the aggressor country, and the responsibility for this aggression lies on the conscience of only one person. This man is Vladimir Putin,” Ovsyanikova said in the video, noting that her father is Ukrainian, and her mother is Russian.
“Unfortunately, for the past few years, I have been working on Channel One and doing propaganda for the Kremlin, and now I am very ashamed of it,” she says in the video. “It is a shame that I allowed lies to be spoken from television screens, ashamed that I allowed the Russian people to be harmed.”
“I am ashamed that we were silent in 2014, when all of this was just beginning,” she says, referring to the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine that led to the annexation of Crimea. “We did not go to rallies when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny, we watched in silence this anti-human regime and now the world has turned its back on us forever, and ten more generations of our grandchildren will not be able to escape the shame of this fraternal war.”
“We’re Russian, we’re thinking and smart, and we can’t help but stop all this craziness,” she says. “Go to the rallies and don’t be afraid! They can’t plant us all!”
Soon, videos of the boycott were posted on social media after they were broadcast. CNN obtained the video from the live broadcast of the profile of Russia’s First Channel VK.
Within minutes, that live broadcast had been removed.