Scroll through a list of new film releases over the past several years and you’ll notice the titles are dominated by superheroes. Spider-Man, Black Panther, Wonder Woman, Batman, Iron Man, Superman, Aquaman… the list of lead characters with superpowers is somewhat exhausting. Now, I know I’m a bit old school, but I prefer literary heroes such as Howard Roark, John Galt, Cyrano de Bergerac, James Bond, Guy Montag and Atticus Finch.
Yet what is even better than fictional heroes are real-life heroes. Here, I consider as some of my favorites Ayn Rand, Aristotle, Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, Ludwig von Mises, Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan, Jeff Bezos, Bob Dylan, Larry Ellison, H.L. Mencken, Thomas Jefferson, and many, many more.
Today, I am adding a new superhero to my personal pantheon, and her name is Marina Ovsyannikova.
I suspect you know who Marina Ovsyannikova is, although her name might not be at the front of your mind. I also suspect you’ve seen the video of her protesting her employer’s lies and propaganda regarding Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The photo here of Marina Ovsyannikova in all her heroic glory is no doubt already well known to the world.
The photo, taken by yours truly, is a screenshot of the March 14, Channel One broadcast (Channel One is the official state TV in Russia, or as I call it, the Putin propaganda network).
Earlier that day, Putin banned access to social media site Instagram from being accessed within the country, which is all part of his crackdown on the dissemination of information to some 80 million Instagram users about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Apparently, this was the final straw that led to Ovsyannikova’s brave act of protest, as the editor and producer at Channel One decided she had seen enough, and she devised a low-tech, yet eminently brave and effective form of protest — basically just “photo bombing” the live Channel One broadcast with a sign that translates to: “No war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.” The bottom of the poster read in English: “Russians against war.”
As Ovsyannikova, and the world, expected would happen after her act of bravery, she was quickly detained by Moscow police soon after the incident, her fate and punishment at the time unknown.
According to Ovsyannikova, she was questioned for some 14 hours by Moscow police, was given no access to legal help and was deprived of sleep for some two days. She was then released after being found guilty of organizing an illegal protest and fined 30,000 rubles (about $280).
In her pre-recorded video before her act of protest, Ovsyannikova condemned the war on Ukraine and the shame she’s felt for being complicit in the propaganda from Channel One.
Here is the translation of what she said, “Unfortunately, I have been working at Channel One during recent years, working on Kremlin propaganda. And now I am very ashamed. I am ashamed that I’ve allowed the lies to be said on the TV screens. I am ashamed that I let the Russian people be zombified.”
Ovsyannikova went on to say the following powerful words directly to her countrymen, “We are Russian People; we are smart and thoughtful, it is only in our power to stop the madness.”
She concluded with the following heroic plea, “Take to the streets, do not be afraid. They can’t jail us all.”
If the rest of the world had a modicum of the courage, conviction, sense of responsibility and sense of right that this woman has, the world would be a far more beautiful place.
Marina Ovsyannikova, you are my new favorite superhero.