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Journalists in Trouble: Russia Detains RFE/RL Journalist Alsu Kurmasheva

Russia detains RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva; RFE/RL event draws attention to incommunicado detention in Belarus; and more.

Alsu Kurmasheva stands in an office.
RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva. (RFE/RL).

RUSSIA: Authorities Detain RFE/RL Journalist Alsu Kurmasheva

On October 18, authorities in Kazan, Russia, detained Alsu Kurmasheva, a journalist with RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service. Alsu is a dual U.S. and Russian citizen who lives in Prague, Czech Republic, with her husband and children. She traveled to Russia for a family emergency.

Alsu has been charged with failure to self-register as a foreign agent. If found guilty, she could face up to five years’ imprisonment. “Alsu Kurmasheva’s arrest is the most egregious instance to date of the abusive use of Russia’s foreign agents’ legislation against independent press,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Responding to news of Alsu’s detention, RFE/RL acting President Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin said: “Alsu is a highly respected colleague, devoted wife, and dedicated mother to two children. She needs to be released so she can return to her family immediately.” On October 23, a Russian court placed Alsu in pre-trial detention until December 5.

Alsu is an accomplished journalist who has long covered cultural and human rights issues affecting ethnic Tatars, who have been under increased pressure from Russian authorities in recent years. She has also reported extensively on gender issues, leading reporting projects on domestic violence and women’s human rights.

Alsu’s detention has been condemned by the governments of Canada, the Czech RepublicFrancePoland, and Sweden, as well as EUOSCE, and UN officials. International human rights and media freedom organizations have vociferously demanded Alsu’s release, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect JournalistsFreedom HousePEN AmericaReporters Without Borders, the International Federation of Journalists, and the International Press Institute. RFE/RL thanks them for their support.

Pavel Butorin, Alsu’s husband and Director of Current Time, RFE/RL’s Russian-language platform, spoke to RFE/RL about her continued detention in his first interview since her arrest.

Three other RFE/RL journalists are unfairly imprisoned: Ihar Losik and Andrey Kuznechyk in Belarus, and Vladyslav Yesypenko in Russian-occupied Crimea.

Visit RFE/RL’s Free Alsu Kurmasheva page to learn more about how to support Alsu.

ICYMI: Catch up on media coverage of the detention of RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva in Russia, in PoliticoReutersThe New York TimesThe HillThe GuardianUSA Today, and the Wall Street Journal.

BELARUS: RFE/RL Event Highlights Incommunicado Detention of Political Prisoners

On October 26, RFE/RL hosted a virtual discussion on the isolation and ill-treatment of political prisoners in Belarus, including the increasingly common practice of incommunicado detention. Watch the recording here.

The event featured remarks by RFE/RL journalist Aleh Hruzdzilovich who was unjustly imprisoned in Belarus from December 2021 to September 2022, Human Rights Watch Assistant Researcher Anastasiia Kruope, and Belarusian lawyer and human rights defender Pavel Sapelka of Viasna.

UN experts report Belarusian authorities are doubling down on this isolation policy and increasingly resorting to cutting off all communication between political prisoners and the outside world. Political prisoners currently being held incommunicado in Belarus include RFE/RL journalist Ihar Losik. His family has not heard from him for more than nine months.

To learn more about Ihar, visit RFE/RL’s Free Ihar Losik page.

My name is Deniz Yuksel, Senior Advocacy Officer here at RFE/RL and the author of Journalists in Trouble. Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter and for standing with persecuted journalists.