It was a jaw-dropping moment when for a few seconds a young woman interrupted a live news broadcast on Russian state media to wave a sign that said: “Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They’re lying to you.”
What made the instance so noteworthy is the lengths to which Vladimir Putin has gone after his invasion of Ukraine to cut Russians off from sources of independent information and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
The blond woman, dressed soberly in a black suit, had but a moment to make her point behind a robotic-sounding anchor reading the TelePrompter. Soon enough, First Channel cut to a generic scene in a hospital.
Russian police detained the protester, according to Tass news service. OVD-Info, a legal defense group, identified her as an employee of First Channel.
Tass cited an anonymous law-enforcement source saying she could be charged with an administrative violation for “discrediting” Russia’s armed forces.
First Channel is Kremlin-backed and one of the primary tools of Putin’s messaging campaign to rewrite the narrative of the war for more than 140 million Russians.
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