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Journalists in Trouble: Alsu Kurmasheva Spends 100 Days In Russian Detention


In December, Alsu Kurmasheva shared her first message for supporters around the world.
In December, Alsu Kurmasheva shared her first message for supporters around the world.

Alsu Kurmasheva spends 100 days in Russian detention; RFE/RL journalist Dmytro Yevshyn injured by Russian artillery fire in Ukraine; RFE/RL staff and board members participate in letter-writing campaign for imprisoned colleagues; and more.

RUSSIA: RFE/RL Journalist Alsu Kurmasheva Spends 100 Days In Russian Detention

Thursday, January 25 marks RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva’s 100th day of wrongful detention in Russia. For more than three months, Alsu has been deprived of contact with her husband and two daughters and denied consular access—her right as a U.S. citizen.

TAKE ACTION: On this day, we encourage you to join the call to #FreeAlsu on social media. Inspiration and sample language are available in this advocacy toolkit. If you are in the U.S., use this template to contact your elected officials about Alsu’s case. Stay informed by visiting the Free Alsu Kurmasheva page on RFE/RL’s website.

“Even one day unjustly behind bars is a tragedy, but a U.S. citizen wrongfully held in a Russian prison for 100 days is outrageous. Alsu is a wife, mother, and beloved member of this proud institution. Simply put, Russia should grant her unconditional and immediate release,” said RFE/RL Acting President Stephen Capus. “We hope the U.S. State Department will quickly designate Alsu as ‘wrongfully detained.’”

Alsu is an American journalist who lives in Prague, Czech Republic. She traveled to Russia to care for her elderly, ailing mother. She was detained on October 18, 2023, and faces up to 15 years in prison on politically-motivated charges.

Alsu’s family calls on the U.S. State Department to immediately designate her as “wrongfully detained.” RFE/RL joins this call, which was echoed by 19 U.S. lawmakers in a December 20, 2023 letter led by Reps. Bill Keating (D-MA) and Tom Kean, Jr. (R-NJ). RFE/RL thanks them for their support.

In December, Alsu shared her first message from prison for supporters around the world. Alsu’s family, friends, and colleagues joined together to share her message and reiterate the call for her immediate release. Watch here.

My dear friends in Prague and around the world!

Thank you so much for keeping me and my family in your thoughts and prayers. Your messages and support get through the jail bars and warm my heart every day. We have so much ahead — we’ll create, we’ll travel, we’ll learn from each other and educate our children. We’ll do that together!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Celebrate freedom and love.

Alsu

ICYMI: Alsu’s photo was shown in New York’s Times Square on January 21, alongside other political prisoners held by Russia, as part of an installation by Jean Christophe Couet and Code 58. See more.

UKRAINE: RFE/RL Journalist Wounded by Russian Artillery Fire During Frontline Reporting

On January 17, Dmytro Yevshyn, a journalist with Crimea.Realities, a regional reporting project of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, was struck and injured by Russian artillery fire in southern Ukraine. Dmytro and his cameraman, Mykyta Isayk, who was not hurt, were filming a story on the front lines of the war.

Dmytro was wearing a bulletproof vest clearly labeling him as “PRESS” and suffered a shrapnel wound in the leg from a mortar shell. His colleague Mykyta and the Ukrainian military provided lifesaving first aid and transported Dmytro to a hospital, where he successfully underwent surgery.

ICYMI: In Freedom House’s new report, “A Light That Cannot Be Extinguished: Exiled Journalism and Transnational Repression,” RFE/RL journalist Artyom Radygin explained how the company is adapting to the challenges of reporting on Russia from afar. Read more.

BELARUS: RFE/RL’s Current Time Smeared as an “Extremist” Organization

Amid a continued crackdown on independent media and civil society, the government of Belarus added RFE/RL’s Russian-language TV and digital network Current Time to its registry of “extremist” organizations following a court decision on January 5.

RFE/RL Acting President Stephen Capus said in response, “More than three years after the fraudulent elections in Belarus, the Lukashenka regime feels so threatened by the independent press that it continues to smear media as extremist organizations. This action changes nothing. RFE/RL is unwavering in its commitment to reach Belarusian audiences with truthful reporting.”

RFE/RL’s Belarus Service was added to the same registry in December 2021. Two RFE/RL journalists, Andrey Kuznechyk and Ihar Losik, remain wrongfully imprisoned in Belarus.

ICYMI: On January 9, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) highlighted Andrey and Ihar’s stories in a speech calling for the release of political prisoners and displayed their photos on the Senate floor. RFE/RL is grateful for his support. Watch here and read more in Sen. Durbin’s press release.

BELARUS/UKRAINE: RFE/RL Staff and Board Members Participate in Letter-Writing Campaign

Over the holidays, RFE/RL staff and board members wrote solidarity letters to our imprisoned colleagues Andrey Kuznechyk and Ihar Losik in Belarus, and Vladyslav Yesypenko in Russia-occupied Crimea. Here’s how you can join:

Write to Andrey and Ihar in Belarus:

  • Write postcards in Belarusian or Russian and mail them to Andrey and Ihar. Both journalists are being held at: Penal colony No. 1. 211440, Navapolack, vulica Techničnaya 8, Belarus.
  • Submit your messages in English or Belarusian to the Solidarity Postcards Atelier. Volunteers will mail Andrey and Ihar handwritten postcards on your behalf.

Write to Vladyslav in Russia-Occupied Crimea:

1. Write your letter or postcard in Russian or use an online translator.

2. Make sure your letter or postcard does not contain political or religious themes.

3. List Vladyslav’s address in both English and Russian:​

  • In English: Vladyslav Yesypenko, Correctional Colony No. 2, 298330, Respublika Krym, Kerch, str. Industrial highway, 17 Russia/Ukraine
  • In Russian: Владислав Есипенко, Исправительная колония №2 Адрес: 298330, Республика Крым, г. Керчь, ул. Индустриальное шоссе, 17 Россия/Украина

4. Please do not send any packages.

My name is Deniz Yuksel, Senior Advocacy Officer here at RFE/RL and the author of Journalists in Trouble. Thank you for reading our newsletter and for standing with persecuted journalists.

If you are interested in collaborating to amplify the stories of our imprisoned journalists, you can reach me by emailing advocacy@rferl.org.

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