Human Rights

Russia’s Keeping Evan Gershkovich Locked Up Sparks Outrage

The 32-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter was arrested last March in Yekatarinburg on espionage charges and is being held at the infamous Lefortovo prison in Moscow. 

Mariana Katzarova, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation, and Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, condemned his continued arbitrary detention.

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“Russian authorities have yet to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the egregious espionage claims against Gershkovich,” they said in a statement.

Targeting independent voices 

On Tuesday, the Moscow City Court extended his detention for another three months, until June.

“This fits a well-documented pattern of Russian authorities using politically motivated administrative and criminal charges that allow for multiple renewals of pre-trial detention, targeting dissidents and independent voices opposed to Russia’s war on Ukraine,” they said.

The experts voiced deep concern that Mr. Gershkovich has not been brought to trial even after a year, a situation which “raises serious concerns about the presumption of innocence and the overall fairness of the legal process.”

‘A disturbing trend’ 

They stressed that anyone arrested or detained on criminal charges must be brought promptly before a judge and tried within a reasonable time, or released. 

“Gershkovich’s arrest is indicative of a disturbing trend in Russia, which has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of journalists—both Russian and foreign citizens—imprisoned for their work,” they charged. 

They noted that since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the number of imprisoned journalists in Russia has reached an all-time high, underlining the Government’s intention to control the narrative both domestically and internationally. 

Furthermore, 12 of the 17 foreign-national journalists detained worldwide are being detained in Russia, according to recent reports. 

Appeal for international support 

Mr. Gershkovich’s detention is emblematic of the general crackdown on free speech and journalism in Russia, particularly in relation to independent reporting on the war against Ukraine, they said.

“As journalists face imprisonment and threats, public access to independent and critical information has diminished,” they added. “We urge the international community to support independent journalists who courageously carry out their work both in Russia and from abroad.”

At least 30 journalists are known to be detained and facing lengthy prison sentences, they continued, including on spurious charges of so-called crimes such as “disseminating false information” and “discrediting” the actions of the Russian armed forces.

Release all journalists 

Another journalist with US citizenship, Alsu Kurmasheva, has also been arbitrarily detained in Russia since 18 October.

Ms. Kurmasheva, who worked for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is accused of violating the provisions of the Russian law on “foreign agents” and may face additional charges. 

“Gershkovich, Kurmasheva and all other journalists imprisoned for reporting from Russia must be released immediately and unconditionally,” the experts said, strongly condemning flagrant violations of international human rights obligations by Russian authorities.

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organisation.

They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work. 

 

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13 Comments

  1. “The Russian authorities have failed to present any compelling evidence to support the severe espionage allegations against Gershkovich,” she stated. Regarding the prolonged detention of independent voices, she pointed out, “This is part of a well-established pattern of Russia employing politically motivated charges to arbitrarily detain individuals who oppose the country’s actions.” Expressing concern over the lack of a trial for Mr. Gershkovich after a year, she emphasized, “This situation undermines the principle of innocence until proven guilty and casts doubt on the fairness of the legal proceedings.” Describing Mr. Gershkovich’s detention as part of a troubling trend in Russia, she highlighted the necessity of prompt judicial hearings for those facing criminal charges to ensure a timely trial or release. She concluded, “The arrest of Gershkovich reflects a worrying direction in Russia, characterized by an increased targeting of dissenting voices.”

  2. Russian authorities have failed to present any credible evidence supporting the serious espionage allegations against Gershkovich. This unjust detention reflects the consistent use of politically motivated charges to silence critics and independent voices challenging Russia’s actions. It is deeply troubling that Gershkovich remains in custody without a fair trial after a year, raising significant doubts about the justice system. This unlawful arrest follows a concerning pattern in Russia, highlighting the dire state of freedom and justice in the country.

  3. Do you think the Russian authorities will eventually provide credible evidence to support the espionage allegations against Gershkovich, or is this part of a broader crackdown on independent voices?

    1. It’s highly unlikely that the Russian authorities will provide credible evidence to support the espionage allegations against Gershkovich. This seems to be part of a broader crackdown on independent voices, following a well-documented pattern of politically motivated charges and detention of dissidents in Russia.

  4. “Russian authorities have yet to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the egregious espionage claims against Gershkovich,” they said in a statement. Targeting independent voices On Tuesday, the Moscow City Court extended his detention for another three months, until June. “This fits a well-documented pattern of Russian authorities using politically motivated administrative and criminal charges that allow for multiple renewals of pre-trial detention, targeting dissidents and independent voices opposed to Russia’s war on Ukraine,” they said. The experts voiced deep concern that Mr. Gershkovich has not been brought to trial even after a year, a situation which “raises serious concerns about the presumption of innocence and the overall fairness of the legal process.” ‘A disturbing trend’ They stressed that anyone arrested or detained on criminal charges must be brought promptly before a judge and tried within a reasonable time, or released. “Gershkovich’s arrest is indicative of a disturbing trend in Russia, which has seen an unpr

  5. Russian authorities have yet to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the egregious espionage claims against Gershkovich. This fits a well-documented pattern of Russian authorities using politically motivated administrative and criminal charges that allow for multiple renewals of pre-trial detention, targeting dissidents and independent voices opposed to Russia’s war on Ukraine. A disturbing trend indeed!

  6. Russian authorities have yet to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the egregious espionage claims against Gershkovich. This fits a well-documented pattern of Russian authorities using politically motivated administrative and criminal charges that allow for multiple renewals of pre-trial detention, targeting dissidents and independent voices opposed to Russia’s war on Ukraine. Anyone arrested or detained on criminal charges must be brought promptly before a judge and tried within a reasonable time, or released. Gershkovich’s arrest is indicative of a disturbing trend in Russia, which has seen an unresponsive legal system.

  7. “Russian authorities have yet to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the egregious espionage claims against Gershkovich,” they said in a statement. Targeting independent voices On Tuesday, the Moscow City Court extended his detention for another three months, until June. “This fits a well-documented pattern of Russian authorities using politically motivated administrative and criminal charges that allow for multiple renewals of pre-trial detention, targeting dissidents and independent voices opposed to Russia’s war on Ukraine,” they said. The experts voiced deep concern that Mr. Gershkovich has not been brought to trial even after a year, a situation which “raises serious concerns about the presumption of innocence and the overall fairness of the legal process.” ‘A disturbing trend’ They stressed that anyone arrested or detained on criminal charges must be brought promptly before a judge and tried within a reasonable time, or released. “Gershkovich’s arrest is indicative of a disturbing trend in Russia, which has seen an unpr

  8. Russian authorities have yet to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the egregious espionage claims against Gershkovich. This fits a well-documented pattern of Russian authorities using politically motivated administrative and criminal charges that allow for multiple renewals of pre-trial detention, targeting dissidents and independent voices opposed to Russia’s war on Ukraine. I am deeply concerned about Mr. Gershkovich’s situation and the lack of fairness in the legal process.

  9. Russian authorities have yet to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the egregious espionage claims against Gershkovich. This fits a well-documented pattern of Russian authorities using politically motivated administrative and criminal charges that allow for multiple renewals of pre-trial detention, targeting dissidents and independent voices opposed to Russia’s war on Ukraine. I believe Mr. Gershkovich should be promptly brought before a judge and tried within a reasonable time, or released. The situation raises serious concerns about the presumption of innocence and the overall fairness of the legal process in Russia.

  10. Why hasn’t there been any credible evidence provided by the Russian authorities to support the espionage claims against Gershkovich yet?

    1. EmilySmith123, the lack of credible evidence provided by the Russian authorities in support of the espionage claims against Gershkovich is indeed concerning. It aligns with a troubling pattern of politically motivated charges utilized to target independent voices and dissidents. The prolonged detention without a fair trial raises serious doubts about the presumption of innocence and the general fairness of the legal system. We must continue to demand transparency and justice in such cases.

  11. Russian authorities have yet to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the egregious espionage claims against Gershkovich. This fits a well-documented pattern of Russian authorities using politically motivated administrative and criminal charges that allow for multiple renewals of pre-trial detention, targeting dissidents and independent voices opposed to Russia’s war on Ukraine. Anyone arrested or detained on criminal charges must be brought promptly before a judge and tried within a reasonable time, or released.

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