Russia arrests more journalists on ‘extremism’ charges

Three Russian journalists have been arrested and detained on Friday and Saturday as Russia continues to crackdown against the media in the country.

The Associated Press first reported that Sergey Karelin and Konstantin Gabov were charged on Saturday with “extremism”. They are accused of being part of a group that was associated with late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny who died in prison earlier this year.

The two will be in custody at least for two months prior to trial. If convicted, the charges can result in a prison sentence of up to six years.

According to his lawyer, the AP, Forbes Russia journalist Sergei Mingazov has also been arrested on Friday for spreading false information. The prosecutor said that he was imprisoned because he reported about alleged Russian crimes committed in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

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All three of the journalists who have been jailed over the past few days are Russian citizens. Karelin is a dual Israeli citizen and worked previously as a cameraman at the AP, and German outlet Deutsche Welle.

The Associated Press expressed its concern over the detention by Russian video journalist Sergey Karelin in a press release. “We are looking for additional information.”

Mingazov was a freelance journalist for Reuters and Deutsche Welle, among other outlets.

Russian prosecutors claimed that the two journalists worked for the Anti-Corruption Foundation. This is a watchdog organization associated with Navalny’s political opposition. Russian critics, as well as the U.S. Government, have blamed Russian leaders for Navalny’s death.

The arrests are part of a crackdown by the Russian government on dissent, as the invasion in Ukraine enters its third year. The government passed laws in the aftermath of the conflict criminalizing false information about the army or statements that are seen as discrediting military. This effectively bans any criticism or speech that differs from the official narrative.

Evan Gershkovich, a journalist from The Wall Street Journal, is one of the Americans detained in Russia. Last month, Gershkovich celebrated one year of imprisonment for espionage. The Journal and State Department both blasted these charges as false and the Biden Administration has committed to pursuing a prisoner swap to free him.

Gershkovich is yet to be tried and will remain behind bars until at least the end of June.