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A Russian-American journalist working for Radio Free Europe faces charges in Russia for allegedly failing to register as a foreign agent.
Alsu Kurmasheva, who holds dual citizenship in the US and Russia, was arrested in Kazan while retrieving her passports. Radio Free Europe, which receives funding from the US government, reported her detainment, stating that Kurmasheva traveled to Russia in May due to a family emergency and was arrested on June 2. She has since been formally charged and could face a prison sentence of up to five years.
Radio Free Europe’s acting President, Jeffrey Gedmin, described Kurmasheva as “a highly respected colleague” and emphasized her role as a “devoted wife, and dedicated mother to two children,” advocating for her immediate release.
Kurmasheva’s journalism focused on ethnic minority communities in Russia’s Tatarstan and Bashkortostan regions. Local news in Tatarstan suggests she’s accused of gathering military information online to share with foreign entities, specifically regarding data on drafted teachers.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has expressed deep concern over her arrest. Gulnoza Said from the CPJ urged Russian authorities to “release her immediately and drop all charges against her.”
This incident aligns with a pattern, as Russia had previously targeted journalists from Radio Free Europe last year. After the 2022 Ukraine conflict, Russia implemented laws intensifying restrictions on “foreign agents,” streamlining the arrest process for those perceived as influenced by foreign entities.