Why the performance of “Channel 1” ’s editor will not help Ukraine
On the 19th day of the war, the editor of the Russian “Channel 1” Marina Ovsyannikova popped out in the prime time with an appeal to stop the war and to stop trusting the fake Russian media. A question immediately arose – what was it: a desperate protest or a staging? But whichever option we choose as our explanation, the situation itself is transparent. To get things right, we need to ask just two questions. First: was Ovsyannikova sincere in her protest? And second: is there anyone else behind her actions?
If she was sincere, so if she truly wanted to protest against Russian aggression, that’s, of course, a good thing. But it doesn’t make her actions heroic, and obviously, it doesn’t excuse her. As Ovsyannikova herself admitted, she worked on the “Channel 1” for several years, producing Kremlin propaganda. So up to 14th March 2022, she felt comfortable while brainwashing fellow citizens, particularly while preparing them to war against Ukraine. Can one act across everything she did over the last few years? It rather reduces her guilt. But even this reduction comes close to zero if you add a few variables to the equation.
If Ovsyannikova was sincere, so if she truly wanted to protest against Russian aggression, that’s, of course, a good thing. But it doesn’t make her actions heroic, and obviously, it doesn’t excuse her. She worked on the “Channel 1” for several years, producing Kremlin propaganda. So up to 14th March 2022, she felt comfortable while brainwashing fellow citizens, particularly while preparing them to war against Ukraine.
Firstly Ovsyannikova “saw the light” only on the 19th day of the war. Secondly, the whole world has acknowledged by that moment, that Russian pro-government press (among which is also “Channel 1”) – are not media but channels of Putin propaganda. Thirdly, unprecedented sanctions were imposed on Russia. This means that even if her remorse is genuine, it is at least too late. And if it’s insincere then we are talking about cold calculation – a pursuit to get the status of a “regime fighter” and further escape to the West, where she could build a comfortable life, avoiding sanctions and responsibility. So, whatever the motivations of Ovsyannikova were, the remorse hit her too late.
The second question might seem a little conspirological: what if someone else was behind Ovsyannikova’s actions? Although in this specific case it isn’t that interesting. The Russian government itself could order this demarche – to show the world, that not all Russians support Putin, which means that sanctions against Russia have to be weakened as “simple people” suffer from them, including those who support the opposition. Officials of lower rank also could have used her demarche. For example, people from Putin’s entourage want to establish a foundation for their image of partisan fighters against the regime. It could be even the editorial office of “Channel 1” which wants to prepare an escape plan on the West. So if – we all are also victims of the Putin regime, we just were “quiet” protesters and saboteurs. So, whatever explanation we choose, only one thing stands behind them all: an intention to save themselves instead of stopping the war, and certainly instead of admitting its criminal nature.
The Russian government itself could order this Ovsyannikova’s demarche – to show the world, that not all Russians support Putin, which means that sanctions against Russia have to be weakened as “simple people” suffer from them, including those who support the opposition
We can get to the historical analogies. In Third Reich, there were a lot of people who formally could be named regime opponents. For instance, Rudolf Hess, secretly escaped to Great Britain in 1940 to negotiate peace between British Empire and Hitler’s Reich. There is also colonel von Stauffenberg, known for his participation in the Operation Valkyrie – Hitler assassination attempt on 20 July 1944. Stauffenberg was executed by Nazis, but Hess stood before the Nurnberg trial – second in line! Both of them were not the doves of peace. Hess wanted to stop the war because he knew about the Barbarossa plan and didn’t believe that Reich can fight on two fronts.
Surprising as it may seem, Stauffenberg had the same opinion. He decided to stand against Hitler because he was a representative of the old Prussian military elite. In his view – as well as other conspirators’ – Hitler was guilty not because he started a war against the whole world but because he was losing it. The 20 July conspiracy had an intention to settle for a separate peace with the Allies to continue a war against USSR. No guilt for the Reich war atrocities, no remorse – just an ambition to build a German Empire under a different flag, without swastika.
However, what Ovsyannikova is doing is more reminiscent of Heinrich Himmler’s behavior. In May 1945 chief of SS put on a Wehrmacht sergeant uniform and surrendered to British soldiers. After that, he was waiting for a release, as he was too unimportant person according to the documents, and wasn’t expected to get under trial and prosecution. However, something revealed Himmler – the seal of the unit where he supposedly served. The military wouldn’t even take a look at such trifle – they had plenty of things to do in May 1945. However, the British intelligence revealed that members of SS massively enlist to a specific Wehrmacht unit which didn’t exist. So everyone with this unit’s seal had to be immediately detained until identification. Sometimes if you try to do everything believable it reveals falseness much more obvious than malefactors think about it.
So we shouldn’t fall into euphoria while watching the demarche on “Channel 1”. The only important thing to us is the change of Kremlin leadership and political course, and not someone’s attempt to jump in the last wagon labeled “Good Russians” which is going to the West. Also, such performances only distract from the main – not only Putin, his generals, and soldiers are responsible for murdering Ukrainians, but the whole Russian society. Yes, even those who are today spectacularly protesting in live air.
At this point it’s already known that Marina Ovsyannikova was fined only 30 thousand Russian rubles, which means $280, while other protesters faced real sentence.