Russian news programs are broadcast live, experts say

The claim: A protest at a Russian news program was staged because “there are no live TV broadcasts in Russia”

Russian state media for weeks presented an alternate reality of the invasion of Ukraine, characterizing the war as a “peacekeeping operation” and pushing misinformation.

Online, some argue that a Russian producer’s anti-war protest on a live newscast was just another propaganda stunt.

“There are no live TV shows in Russia. None. Ever,” reads one March 15 Facebook post which generated more than 400 interactions in six days. “Like most people in the world, I saw the ‘brave Russian woman’ video yesterday. On the one hand, I thought, ‘oh, wow, amazing’. But at the same time, there there was something wrong.”

March 14, Marina Ovsyannikova interrupted a live broadcast of the Channel One network in Moscow holding a sign that reads “No War” in English. She was later arrested and taken into custody, according to the human rights group OVD-Info.

After her arrest, Ovsyannikova was questioned for 14 hours and appeared in court. She was released and in charge of “discredit the Russian armed forces”, according to Pavel Shikova Russian human rights lawyer representing her.

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The user who posted the Facebook post, Texas-based singer-songwriter Bria Blessing, asked how Ovsyannikova gained access to the studio with a large poster, her “nonchalant, almost playful” body language and the lack of reaction from news anchor sitting at desk.

“The answer – it was all staged. It has now turned out that it was all wrong,” Blessing wrote, pointing to an article from 2015 of The Guardian on the Kremlin’s information war.

Similar versions of the complaint circulated on Facebook and Twitteror some members of the Ukrainian parliament shared it.

But there are live broadcasts on Russian state-owned TV channels, according to independent fact-checking organizations. Media and disinformation experts say the message does not prove the protest was fake.

In an email to USA TODAY, Larissa Doroshenko, one of the users who shared the post, offered no evidence that the TV shows weren’t live or that the protest was staged.

USA TODAY has reached out to Facebook users who shared the complaint for comment.

The news is broadcast live in Russia

Vera Tolzprofessor of Russian studies at the University of Manchester, said in an email that there had been live television news broadcasts in Russian until at least March 17, noting that public channels had changed their approach to broadcasting in response to the protest.

“Historically, all major newscasts are ‘live’, as news may occur during the broadcast and importance may require an immediate response from a presenter”, Vasily Gatova Russian media analyst and senior fellow at the Annenberg Center at the University of Southern California, told USA TODAY in an email.

Fact check report:What is true and what is false about the Russian invasion of Ukraine

He pointed and translated a March 15 Facebook post of his friend and former Channel One news presenter Yulia Pankratova, who wrote that evening news from the network is always broadcast live, not even a minute late.

Marek Bekermana lecturer in international journalism at the University of Salford in the UK, said in an email that while it is easy to fool the public into thinking a pre-recorded story is live, it would be difficult to do “on an ongoing basis over a period of time for a news-focused outlet. He said it was also not “practical” or necessary for Russian propaganda or disinformation purposes.

“There is no logical connection between this incident and coverage of civilian deaths or atrocities in the conflict,” Bekerman said. “To claim that the protest on Russian television is distracting from events on the ground borders on paranoia – on the contrary, it highlights it.

Continued:President Biden uses presidential power to give another $800 million to Ukraine

Adrian Campbellassociate professor at the University of Birmingham in the UK, said that if the information had not been broadcast live, it would have been reflected in reporting on the incident by independent Russian news outlets, such as Medusa.

Access to studio not unusual, protester could face further prosecution

Social media users expressed skepticism about Ovsyannikova’s ability to cut off the broadcast and get past security. But Russian media experts say it’s not unusual for a producer to have access to a studio.

“Ovsyannikova’s social networks show that she was a long-time employee of the television network”, Sarah Oats, a University of Maryland professor who researches Russian propaganda, said in an email. “TV production in Russia works the same way it does in the west – trusted employees are often close to the set and have full access.”

Ovsyannikova used her employee ID badge to pass through two security checkpoints and “past one last guard” at the studio door, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Pankratova, the former Channel One news anchor, said in the Facebook post this when she worked for the network, security guards were in place. But employees such as editors or makeup artists could show a pass to gain access.

Additionally, the $280 fine that some social media users have reported is linked to a video that Ovsyannikova posted online before the protest, not for his performance during the live broadcast, the BBC reported. Media and reporting experts say Ovsyannikova could face further prosecution and imprisonment under a new Russian law, which punishes anyone who uses ‘war’ or ‘invasion’ to describe the conflict with up to 15 years in prison.

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Our opinion: False

Based on our research, we rate the claim that a protest at a Russian news program was staged because “there are no live TV broadcasts in Russia” as FALSE. Russian media experts say the news is broadcast live in the country and there is no evidence the protest was organized by the Kremlin. The protester was granted access to the studio because she was a longtime employee with a badge.

Our fact-checking sources:

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