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Press FreedomRussian Federation

US journalist Kurmasheva detention extended by Russian court

December 1, 2023

A court in Russia has extended the pre-trial detention of a US-Russian journalist arrested for failing to register as a "foreign agent."

https://p.dw.com/p/4ZfBC
Alsu Kurmasheva attending the court hearing
Alsu Kurmasheva faces up to five years in prison for not making the registrationImage: Yegor Aleyev/TASS/IMAGO

A court in the Russian city of Kazan on Friday extended the detention of the journalist Alsu Kurmasheva as she awaits trial for not registering as a "foreign agent."

Failure to register as a foreign agent, which involves closer government scrutiny and arduous red tape, can result in a prison sentence of up to five years.

What we know about Kurmasheva's detention

Prague-based Kurmasheva was detained in October, having had her passport confiscated in June when she traveled to Russia for a family emergency.

She was fined for failing to register her US passport with the authorities and, a week later, was charged with not making the registration.

Russia has used the foreign agent designation as a tool to silence independent media operating inside the country. It requires registered organizations and individuals to mark all their publications with the label, which carries Soviet-era connotations.

They must also submit reports about their activities to Russian authorities.

Georgia drops 'foreign agents' bill after mass protests

Kurmasheva is a journalist for US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which has condemned her detention.

"Alsu has spent 45 days behind bars in Russia and, today, her unjust, politically motivated detention has been extended," said the acting president of RFE/RL, Jeffrey Gedmin.

"We call on Russian authorities to immediately grant Alsu consular access, which is her right as a US citizen. Alsu must be released and reunited with her family."

Second US journalist detained

Kurmasheva, who is also a Russian citizen, is the second US journalist to be arrested in Russia this year.

Earlier this week, a Moscow court also extended the pre-trial detention of the Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in March. Authorities accuse him of espionage under charges that carry a possible 20-year sentence.

Gershkovich was arrested while working in the city of Yekaterinburg, where he was covering the Russian mercenary Wagner private military organization.

US President Joe Biden and the Wall Street Journal have denied that Gershkovich is a spy, with Biden accusing Moscow of engaging in "hostage diplomacy."

rc/wmr (AFP, Reuters)