Russian authorities have arrested Alsu Kurmasheva, a dual-Russian/American citizen and journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Tatar-Bashkir service, the news outlet reported on Oct. 19.
Kurmasheva was arrested in Kazan for failing to register as a foreign agent, which can carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.
According to RFE/RL, Kurmasheva lives in Prague with her family, and traveled to Russia in May for a family emergency. When she tried to leave Russia the following month, authorities confiscated both her Russian and American passports, supposedly on the premise that she had not registered her U.S. passport.
Kurmasheva has been unable to leave Russia since then. RFE/RL confirmed that she had been charged with the foreign agent violation on Oct. 19, while waiting for her passports to be returned.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a statement on Oct. 18, condemning Kurmasheva's arrest and describing the allegation against her as meritless.
"CPJ is deeply concerned by the detention of U.S.-Russian journalist Alsu Kurmasheva on spurious criminal charges and calls on Russian authorities to release her immediately and drop all charges against her,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator.
“Journalism is not a crime and Kurmasheva’s detention is yet more proof that Russia is determined to stifle independent reporting.”
Kurmasheva is the second journalist with American citizenship to be detained in Russia since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter from the U.S., was arrested in Russia in March 2023 on espionage charges. He has been held in pre-trial detention since then.
Both the U.S. government and the WSJ strongly deny the charges against him.