UPDATE: Journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who fell ill in France where she lives in exile after protesting the offensive in Ukraine on Russian state TV, said Friday that tests had not revealed any poisoning.“I’m feeling much better now,” she posted on Telegram.
“Most of the test results are back. There are no toxic substances in the blood. We’re not talking about poisoning.”
Marina Ovsyannikova, 44, an employee of the Russian state television “Channel One,” achieved international notoriety in March 2022 after she held up a sign saying “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here – Russians Against War” during a live evening news broadcast.
Reports say that Ovsyannikova became suddenly ill soon after leaving her apartment in Paris, France on Thursday morning and noticing a powdery substance on the door, a source close to the investigation told AFP.
Christophe Deloire of “Reporters Without Borders,” the organization which helped Ovsyannikova and her daughter flee Russia, confirmed the incident on X and said that members of the group were “staying at her side.”
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
Shortly after her on-screen protest she was arrested and fined and again in July for a second protest on charges of spreading fake news. While waiting for her court appearance in October 2022 she fled, with the assistance of Reporters Without Borders, along with her 11-year-old daughter and sought asylum in France.
She told a February press conference in Paris, she “clearly” feared for her life, adding that Russian friends warned she could be the victim of a poisoning or a car accident.
Last week, a court in Moscow sentenced her to 8.5 years in prison for a separate protest in July 2022 for holding up a placard outside the Kremlin that read: “Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists.”
If this is confirmed as a poisoning attack it follows on similar suspected poisonings of three other exiled Russian journalists as reported by the Russian investigative website “The Insider.”
Former “Novaya Gazeta” journalist Elena Kostyuchenko in Berlin in October last year; Irina Babloyan, former broadcaster of the Ekho Moskvy radio station which was closed as part of Moscow’s “disinformation” crackdown, was allegedly poisoned in Tbilisi a week later; Natalia Arno, US-based president of the Free Russia Foundation, an NGO that supports opponents of Putin, became ill in her hotel room while participating in an event in Prague.
Elena Kostyuchenko - Natalia Arno - Irina Babloyan
Photo montage: The Insider
All three reported similar symptoms: inflammation of the skin, extreme weakness, acute stomach pain, anxiety attacks, a metallic taste in the mouth, and skin discoloration. The three journalists considered that they were too insignificant to become the target of Russia in this way. All three cases are currently under investigation as attempted murder.
Enemies of Russian President Vladimir Putin living abroad have been poisoned in the past, this has included former Russian security operatives Sergei Skripal, who survived, and Alexander Litvinenko, who did not.
The Kremlin denies involvement with any of these assassination attempts.
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