In Russia, People 'Get Locked Away,' Jailed Reporter Tweeted

Evan Gershkovich finds support from Russian colleagues, human rights group
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2023 8:50 AM CDT
In Russia, People 'Get Locked Away,' Jailed Reporter Tweeted
The Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich is shown in this undated photo.   (The Wall Street Journal via AP, File)

Among the issues Moscow-based Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich covered in Russia was efforts to crack down on free speech. "Reporting on Russia is now also a regular practice of watching people you know get locked away for years," he tweeted in July, per the New York Post. His tweet was in response to the arrest of Ilya Yashin, whom he'd described as "one of the last prominent opposition politicians still in the country and not behind bars," allegedly for critical comments on the war in Ukraine. Gershkovich is no longer in a place to put a spotlight on Russian detainees, as one himself. But others are taking up the mantle as he remains held in a Moscow jail on suspicion of spying for the US government.

OVD-Info, a human rights group Gershkovich highlighted, is shouting about his case, while leading independent journalists in Russia published an open letter Tuesday demanding the release "of our colleague Evan Gershkovich," writes the New York Times' Anton Troianovski, a friend of Gershkovich. They "are giving voice to Evan’s plight, flipping the equation after so many years of Western journalists working to shine a light on the crackdown on free speech in Russia." Russian journalists are well aware of the risks of reporting in a country where describing the conflict in Ukraine as a "war" can land one in jail. But Gershkovich's arrest raises the stakes.

Even "Russian journalists who themselves had suffered from Mr. Putin's suppression of press freedom spoke of their shock about Evan's arrest," Troianovski writes. It shows "just how far and how fast President Vladimir V. Putin's Russia has morphed into a police state in which no one is safe—not even a journalist officially accredited by Russia's Foreign Ministry." Yet pushback continues with independent Russian journalist Dmitry Kolezev conveying details of Gershkovich's case, per NBC News. According to Kolezev, Gershkovich believed he was followed by the FSB on an earlier assignment. Before his arrest, he may have been looking to speak with employees at a tank production facility as part of reporting on the Wagner mercenary group, Kolezev adds. (More Evan Gershkovich stories.)

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