French prosecutors have reportedly opened an investigation into the alleged poisoning of exiled Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who fled her home country with her daughter last year after chanting an infamous anti-war slogan on state television.
The 44-year-old suddenly felt unwell after opening the door of her Paris apartment on Thursday and noticed a powdery substance, a source familiar with the investigation told Agence France-Presse.
Reporters Without Borders, which helped Ovsyannikova and her daughter leave Russia safely, confirmed the incident on X. “The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into suspected poisoning,” said the group’s secretary general, Christophe Deloire wrote. “There are no special elements at this point. We will keep you updated.”
He said Ovsyannikova was feeling slightly better Thursday afternoon but was still under medical observation.
Forensic police were reportedly dispatched to examine Ovsyannikova’s home to determine what substance was allegedly involved.
The television reporter made headlines in March 2022 when she interrupted a live news broadcast on Russian broadcaster Channel One, her employer at the time, with a protest sign against the war in Ukraine that read: “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda. “I’m lying to you here.”
She was arrested by Russian police on charges of spreading fake news, but escaped shortly afterwards while under house arrest.
She and her then 11-year-old daughter fled Russia in October 2022 with the help of Reporters Without Borders and applied for asylum in France.
At a press conference in Paris in February, Ovsyannikova was asked if she now feared for her life. “I definitely do,” she said, adding that her Russian friends had speculated that she might have been the victim of poisoning or a car accident.
Last week, a Moscow court sentenced her in absentia to 8.5 years in prison for a separate protest rally in July 2022 in which she confronted the Kremlin and held a sign reading “Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists.”