Two Russian journalists arrested on suspicion of collaborating with Navalny Group | Press freedom news

Konstantin Gabov and Sergei Karelin have denied charges of “extremism” related to the group founded by the late anti-Putin dissident.

Two Russian journalists have been arrested by the government on suspicion of “extremism” and will remain in detention pending investigation and trial for allegedly working for an organization founded by late Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. This was ordered by the court.

Konstantin Gabov and Sergei Karelin both deny the charges and will be detained for at least two months before their trial begins. According to Russian courts, each defendant faces a minimum of two years in prison and a maximum of six years on charges of “participation in an extremist organization.”

They are just the latest journalists to be arrested in Russia’s escalating crackdown on opposition and independent media following its all-out invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago.

The Russian government passed a law criminalizing false information about the military or statements deemed to undermine its credibility, effectively outlawing criticism of the Ukraine war or speech that deviates from the official narrative.

Sergei Mingazov, a reporter for the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, has been detained on charges of spreading false information about the Russian military, his lawyer announced Friday.

Gabov and Karelin are accused of creating material for a YouTube channel run by Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, which has been outlawed by Russian authorities. Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, died in February under unclear circumstances in an Arctic penal colony.

Gabov, who was detained in Moscow on Saturday, is a freelance producer who has worked for several organizations, including Reuters, the court’s press office said.

Karelin, who holds dual citizenship with Israel, was detained on Friday night in Russia’s northern Murmansk region.

Karelin, 41, has worked for many outlets, including The Associated Press. He was a photographer for German media outlet Deutsche Welle until the Kremlin banned the outlet from operating in Russia in February 2022.

“The Associated Press is deeply concerned about the detention of Russian video journalist Sergei Karelin,” the Associated Press said in a statement. “We are requesting additional information.”

Russia’s crackdown on opposition targets opposition figures, journalists, activists, members of the LGBTQ community, and Russians critical of the Kremlin. A number of journalists have been jailed in connection with their coverage of Navalny, including Antonina Favorskaya, who remained in pre-trial detention until at least May 28 following a hearing last month. There is.

Favorskaya was detained and accused by Russian authorities of joining an “extremist organization” for her posts on Navalny’s foundation’s social media platforms. She covered Navalny’s court hearings for years and filmed his final video before he died in a penal colony.

Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, said Favorskaya had not published anything on the foundation’s platforms and that Russian authorities had targeted her because of her work as a journalist. He suggested that it might be.

Evan Gershkovitch, 32, an American reporter for the Wall Street Journal, is awaiting trial on espionage charges in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison. Both Mr. Gershkovic and his employer vehemently deny the charges.

Mr. Gershkovic was detained in March 2023 while on a reporting trip and spent more than a year in prison. Authorities have not detailed any evidence supporting the spying charges, if any.

The U.S. government has declared Mr. Gershkovic unjustly detained, and officials have accused the Russian government of using the journalist as a pawn for political purposes.

The Russian government is also cracking down on rebel groups. One prominent activist, Vladimir Kara-Murza, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

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