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Kremlin escalates war on truth

EuropeMarch 29 Evan Gershkovich, Reporter wall street journal, disappeared during a reporting trip to Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city. The next day, it was clear to Russian security services: They arrested him on espionage charges. Mr. Gershkovich, a US citizen authorized to report from Russia, does not appear to be any different. The arrest could exacerbate already bad relations between Russia and the United States.

Social media reports said Mr Gershkovic was taken from Bukowski Grill, a restaurant in Yekaterinburg, by men in plainclothes who carried him out with a sweatshirt over his head. Since then, he has not appeared in public again.this wall street journal Expressing “deep concern” for the safety of its journalists.

Mr. Gershkovich was in Yekaterinburg reporting on the recruitment of female criminals by Wagner & Co., a private mercenary company fighting in eastern Ukraine. This is his second visit to the city recently. A local public relations executive who helped arrange the meeting on the first visit said he had taken Mr. Gershkovich to lunch at the same restaurant. “It’s not hard to imagine how someone might visit a familiar place in an unfamiliar city.”

It is understood that Gershkovich also visited Nizhny Tagil near Yekaterinburg, where Russia’s largest tank factory is located.this FSBRussia’s main security agency said it had detained Gershkovich after he was suspected of “collecting secret information about a factory in the Russian military-industrial complex”. The charge under section 276 of the Penal Code, under which Mr Gershkovic appears to have been detained, carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

social media accounts to connect to FSB Regular news releases about its operations added that the bureau was collecting assets in preparation for the prisoner exchange. Last week, the United States announced charges against Sergei Cherkasov, a Russian citizen who last year worked under a Brazilian pseudonym in the Netherlands arrested. In December, the Biden administration agreed to trade convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was imprisoned in the United States, in exchange for basketball star Brittney Griner Spent almost 10 months in a Russian prison.

While Mr Gershkovich is detained in Yekaterinburg, his case is being handled by a central unit FSB. State media reported that he had been transferred to the notorious high-security Lefortovo prison, which FSB Used in espionage cases. A judge ruled behind closed doors that he should be held until at least May 29.

The Russian leadership is almost certainly aware of these plans. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed Mr Gershkovich had been “caught red-handed” but declined to provide details. He added that the Kremlin “monitored” Western media and was “familiar” with Mr Gershkovich’s work. “It is the prerogative of the government FSB. This is FSB is talking. We have nothing more to add. ”

Russia’s reporting laws, already strict, were tightened further after the Ukraine invasion. Extensive legal coverage now borders on criminal activity, at least in theory. The laws are designed to stoke fear and intimidate the media and citizens to spread accurate information about the bleak prospects of Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” as journalists are obliged to describe the war. The arrest of an American citizen working for the world’s most prestigious media organization is an escalation in Putin’s war on the truth.

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