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Editor-in-chief Marina Ovsyannikova holds up a protest sign during a newscast broadcast by Yekaterina Andreyeva on Russia’s Channel One © AFP via Getty Images

A state television worker burst into Russian state television’s main evening news broadcasts on Monday to protest against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the biggest sign yet of simmering discontent after the three-week war.

Marina Ovsyannikova, editor-in-chief of Channel One, appeared live for a few seconds holding a sign saying “Stop the war – Don’t believe the propaganda – They are lying to you” and chanting “Stop the war!” No to war!”

Although the channel cut the wire after seconds, Ovsyannikova’s unprecedented intervention was an extraordinary act of defiance after Russia tightened already draconian censorship laws when the war began in late February.

Police have detained Ovsyannikova under a new law that criminalizes acts such as “discrediting the Russian armed forces” and spreading “false information” about the conflict, said Pavel Chikov, whose Agora legal defense foundation represents Ovsyannikova. .

Although the most severe penalties carry a prison term of up to 15 years, Chikov said Ovsyannikova was likely to be fined 30,000 to 60,000 rupees ($250 to $500 ).

Channel One told state newswire Ria Novosti it was investigating the incident.

In a video recorded beforehand and published by Ovd-Info, a website that monitors arrests during protests, Ovsyannikova blamed Putin, Russia’s president, for the war and said she was ashamed of her role as a Channel One employee.

“What is happening in Ukraine is a crime, and Russia is the aggressor. The responsibility for this aggression lies with one man: Vladimir Putin,” Ovsyannikova said.