A district court in Kazan, Russia extended on Friday the detention of Alsu Kurmasheva, a journalist holding both Russian and United States citizenship, according to Russian state media. Kurmasheva faces allegations of failing to adhere to Russia’s stringent foreign agent registration law. This decision, extending her confinement until February 5, was made without setting a definitive trial date.
Kurmasheva, who is associated with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was detained in October. She faces accusations of neglecting to register as a foreign agent, an offense in Russian law that carries the threat of a potential five-year prison term.
Jeffrey Gedmin, RFE/RL’s acting president, strongly condemned Kurmasheva’s detention, denouncing it as unjust and politically motivated. He implored Russian authorities to immediately release her and grant her the consular access warranted by her US citizenship, and advocated for her prompt reunion with family.
This incident marks the second detention of a U.S. journalist in Russia this year. In March, Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal correspondent, was apprehended on espionage charges—a vehemently denied accusation by Gershkovich, his employer and US President Joe Biden. This incident has escalated international concerns, prompting a closer examination of Moscow’s use of what some label as “hostage diplomacy.”
The application of Russia’s “foreign agent” label has garnered international criticism for its role in stifling independent media within the nation. Kurmasheva’s case underscores the growing concerns about journalistic freedoms and the treatment of foreign individuals navigating Russia’s legal system, echoing similar apprehensions raised in past incidents involving US nationals.
Reporters Without Borders urged the US Department State to designate Kurmasheva as “wrongfully detained” and urged Russia to immediately drop the “ludicrous charges.”