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Imprisoned Journalists

RFE/RL advocates on behalf of its journalists who have been imprisoned because of their work. They must be released immediately to their families. Journalism is not a crime.

Vladyslav Yesypenko Headshot


Vladyslav Yesypenko, a journalist for RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, was detained in Russia-occupied Crimea on March 10, 2021.


Alsu Kurmasheva, a journalist with RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service, was detained in Kazan, Russia, on October 18, 2023.


Ihar Losik, a journalist for RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, was detained in Minsk, Belarus, on June 25, 2020.

Andrey Kuznechyk Headshot


Andrey Kuznechyk, a journalist for RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, was detained in Minsk, Belarus, on November 25, 2021.

Monitoring Threats to Press Freedom


As part of the Lukashenka regime’s crackdown on independent media, the Belarusian Interior Ministry added RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, known locally as Radio Svaboda, to its registry of “extremist organizations” on December 23, 2021. Current Time, RFE/RL’s 24/7 Russian-language TV and digital network was added to the same registry on January 11, 2024. With this move, Belarusians who share Radio Svaboda or Current Time content can face up to six years in prison.  

Two RFE/RL journalists are currently imprisoned in Belarus: Ihar Losik and Andrey Kuznechyk. Ihar and Andrey have been recognized by Belarusian and international human rights organizations as political prisoners.


The Kremlin’s suppression of press freedom has intensified since the beginning of its full-scale war on Ukraine. Authorities blocked nine RFE/RL websites in February 2022 after RFE/RL refused to comply with demands to delete reporting about the war. In the following months, RFE/RL journalists in Russia were harassed, detained, and smeared as “foreign agents.”   

Authorities launched a forced bankruptcy case against RFE/RL for its refusal to pay multiple fines totaling more than $14 million levied under Russia’s so-called “foreign agent” law. As a result, RFE/RL was forced to close its Moscow bureau in March 2022 and was formally declared bankrupt a year later.  
RFE/RL journalists continue to be targeted by the Russian authorities. Alsu Kurmasheva, a journalist with RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service, has been detained in Kazan, Russia since October 2023.

In February 2024, RFE/RL was designated an “undesirable organization” by Russian authorities. Russian citizens face up to five years in prison for cooperating with “undesirable” organizations or aiding in their financing within Russia.   

Russia-Occupied Crimea

Russian authorities in occupied Crimea routinely prosecute and imprison journalists in retaliation for their reporting. Crimean journalists are often held in degrading conditions, and several have reported being tortured in detention.  

RFE/RL journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko has been imprisoned in Russia-occupied Crimea since March 2021. Ukrainian and international human rights organizations have recognized Vladyslav as a political prisoner.

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RFE/RL journalists and staff face intimidation, physical harm, and imprisonment because of their work. It is RFE/RL’s top priority to advocate for the release of our imprisoned journalists and ensure our staff can do their jobs safely.  

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Latest Updates

Russia Extends Detention of Alsu Kurmasheva; Her Imprisonment “As Outrageous Today as It Was Six Months Ago”

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) condemns the latest extension of American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva’s pretrial detention.

Family of Detained RFE/RL Journalist Alsu Kurmasheva Meets Top Biden Aides, Lawmakers, Hostage Advocates in Washington, D.C.

The husband and children of American RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva—who is spending her 150th day in a Russian prison—spent a productive week in Washington, D.C.

Journalists in Trouble: Russian Authorities Declare RFE/RL an “Undesirable Organization”

RFE/RL declared “undesirable” in Russia; Russian court upholds Alsu Kurmasheva’s detention; Kazakh authorities block accreditation to RFE/RL journalists; and more.