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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 with his young daughter headshot


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

An image of Alsu Kurmasheva smiling at the camera


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

Russian-American journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Alsu Kurmasheva, who is in custody after she was accused of violating Russia's law on foreign agents, holds drawings by her supporters as she attends a court hearing in Kazan, Russia May 31, 2024. Image taken by REUTERS/Alexey Nasyrov.

Russia Extends American RFE/RL Journalist’s Detention for Sixth Time

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is outraged at today’s ruling in Russia to extend RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva’s pretrial detention for the sixth time.

Kateryna Yesypenko and Aleh Hruzdzilovich at RFE/RL’s World Press Freedom Day reception in Washington D.C. on April 25, 2024.

Journalists in Trouble: President Biden Calls for Alsu Kurmasheva’s Release

President Biden calls for Alsu Kurmasheva’s release; RFE/RL hosts World Press Freedom Day reception with families of imprisoned journalists; and more.

An image of Alsu Kurmasheva and her two daughters sitting on rocks by a river in New York. Alsu is currently unjustly detained in Russia after she was accused of violating Russia's law on foreign agents.

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.