French prosecutors have reportedly opened an investigation into the suspected poisoning of exiled Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who fled her home country last year with her daughter after infamously brandishing an anti-war slogan on state TV.
The 44-year-old suddenly felt unwell after opening the door of her Paris apartment on Thursday and she noticed a powder substance, a source close to the investigation told Agence France-Presse.
Reporters Without Borders, who helped Ovsyannikova and her daughter get out of Russia safely, confirmed the incident on X. “The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into suspected poisoning,” the group’s secretary general Christophe Deloire wrote. “No particular elements at this stage. We will keep you informed.”
He said Ovsyannikova was feeling slightly better Thursday afternoon but that she was still under medical observation.
Forensic police have reportedly been sent to examine Ovsyannikova’s home to try and determine what the alleged substance was.
The TV reporter made headlines in March 2022 when she interrupted a live news bulletin at Russia’s Channel One, her then-employer, with a placard protesting the war in Ukraine which read, “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.”
She was arrested by Russian police on charges of spreading fake news but managed to escape soon after while out on house arrest.
She and her then 11-year-old daughter fled Russia in Oct. 2022 with the help of Reporters Without Borders and she has sought asylum in France.
At a February press conference in Paris, Ovsyannikova was asked if she now feared for her life. “I clearly do,” she said, adding that her Russian friends speculated that she may be the victim of a poisoning or a car accident.
Last week, a court in Moscow sentenced her in absentia to 8.5 years in prison for a separate protest in July 2022 where she stood across from the Kremlin holding up a sign that read, “Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists.”