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Russia extends pre-trial detention of jailed US journalist Kurmasheva

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 1, 2023 11:44 PM 2 min read
Alsu Kurmasheva, a dual-Russian/American citizen and journalist for RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service, has been detained in Russia since Oct. 19, 2023. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
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A court in the Russian city of Kazan extended the pre-trial detention of Alsu Kurmasheva, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) journalist with dual U.S. and Russian citizenship, to an additional two months, the news organization announced on Dec. 1.

RFE/RL did not report on if there was a reason given for the extension.

“Alsu spent 45 days behind bars in Russia, and today her unjust, politically motivated imprisonment was extended,” said RFE/RL acting President Jeffrey Gedmin. “We call on Russian authorities to immediately grant Alsu consular access, which is her right as a U.S. citizen.”

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.

She was sentenced to pre-trial detention on Oct. 23, which was supposed to end on Dec. 5.

U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Oct. 19 that he was "appalled" by Kurmasheva's arrest and called for her immediate release.

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 reporter from the U.S., was arrested in Russia in March 2023 on espionage charges. He has been held in pre-trial detention since, which was extended on Nov. 28 for an additional two months.

Both the U.S. government and the WSJ strongly deny the charges against him.

Olenivka POW camp, where Ukrainians were tortured, was likely supervised by a high-ranking official from Moscow
Kirill Popov, the first deputy head of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s Moscow branch, is likely to have overseen the work of the Olenivka POW camp, located in the occupied parts of Donetsk Oblast.
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