In response to the news that Alsu Kurmasheva, an editor with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Tatar-Bashkir Service, has been arrested and arbitrarily detained on remand under criminal charges of failing to register as a ‘foreign agent,’ Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:
“The persecution of Alsu Kurmasheva is an example of the relentless crackdown on journalism and the right to freedom of expression in Russia. It also marks an alarming escalation in the harassment of media professionals, as it’s the first time this offence has been used to directly target a journalist for their professional activities, putting her at risk of a five-year imprisonment.
Alsu Kurmasheva’s case is a stark warning to all Russian journalists working for foreign media and covering the war in UkraineMarie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia
“Further to ‘discrediting the army’ and other absurd charges used to lock up anyone accused of harbouring and expressing anti-war sentiments, the Russian authorities have now decided that the mere fact of being employed by a foreign media outlet is enough to warrant arrest and prosecution. Alsu Kurmasheva’s case is a stark warning to all Russian journalists working for foreign media and covering the war in Ukraine.
“Amnesty International calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Alsu Kurmasheva and the repeal of all legislation related to so-called ‘foreign agents,’ as well as the provisions introduced with the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 in violation of the right to freedom of expression, including the legislation on ‘fake news’ about the Army and ‘discrediting the Armed Forces’.”
Alsu Kurmasheva, a dual U.S. and Russian citizen residing in the Czech Republic, was detained during her visit to Russia on 18 October in Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan. She was charged under Article 330.1(3) for failing to register as a “foreign agent” whose activity is “aimed at collecting information on Russia’s military and military-technical activities, which when received by a foreign source could be used against the Russian Federation’s security”. If found guilty, she could face up to five years’ imprisonment.