Journalist ‘poisoned’ after denouncing Putin’s war on Ukraine live on air
Yulia Skripal says she’s ‘lucky to have survived’ poisoning attack
A Russian journalist who famously condemned Vladimir Putin’s war live on air has been hospitalised in France, with investigators believing she may have been poisoned.
Marina Ovsyannikova called emergency services after suddenly falling ill as she left her Paris apartment and said she suspected she was poisoned, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
Police were examining her apartment and an investigation was underway, the prosecutor’s office said.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which helped Ms Ovsyannikova escape Russia and settle in France, said its team has been ‘’at her side’’ since she sought medical attention.
The group, known also by its French acronym RSF, did not have additional information related to what happened.
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Ms Ovsyannikova, who worked at Russian state television Channel One, hit the headlines in March 2022 after appearing behind the anchor of an evening news broadcast with a sign which said, “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.”
She was charged with disparaging the Russian military and fined 30,000 rubles ($270 at the time).
She subsequently staged a protest close the Kremlin in July 2022, was detained and placed under house arrest before escaping to France with her daughter.
Earlier this month, a Moscow court sentenced her to eight-and-a-half years in prison in absentia for spreading false information about the Russian army.
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It was the latest example of a Russian crackdown on dissent which has intensified since Russia invaded Ukraine almost 20 months ago.
The scale of the crackdown has been unprecedented in post-Soviet Russia.
If indeed Ms Ovsyannikova has been poisoned, it would echo the attack on former Russian spy-turned-double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in 2018.
Both survived – but a British woman named Dawn Sturgess subsequently died after her boyfriend gave her a bottle containing the deadly toxin called Novichok, believing it was perfume.
The bottle had been discarded by Russian agents responsible for the attack on the Skripals.
The incident resulted in the expulsion of more than a dozen Russian diplomats.
Speaking at the time, then-Prime Minister Theresa May said: “This attempted murder, using a weapons-grade nerve agent in a British town, was not just a crime against the Skripals.
“It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk.
“And we will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil.”
Numerous critics of Putin have ended up dead since the start of the war.
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