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Alsu Kurmasheva

Alsu Kurmasheva is a journalist with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Tatar-Bashkir Service who was detained in Kazan, Russia, on October 18, 2023. Alsu holds U.S. and Russian citizenship and lives in Prague, Czech Republic, with her husband and two children. 

Alsu traveled to Russia on May 20, 2023, to care for her elderly, ailing mother. She was temporarily detained while waiting for her return flight on June 2, 2023. Authorities at Kazan airport confiscated her U.S. and Russian passports, preventing her from leaving the country. She was subsequently fined 10,000 rubles ($103) for failure to register her U.S. passport with Russian authorities. Before she could pay the fine, Alsu was detained again on October 18, 2023, for failing to declare herself a “foreign agent.” On December 11, 2023, Russian authorities launched a third investigation against Alsu for violating military censorship laws. If convicted, she could face up to 15 years in prison. 

Alsu’s detention has been condemned by the governments of Canada, Czech Republic, France, Poland, and Sweden, more than a dozen U.S. lawmakers, as well as by EU, OSCE, U.S. and UN officials. Human rights and press freedom organizations have called for Alsu’s immediate release, including  Amnesty International, Freedom House, Memorial, PEN America, Reporters Without Borders, the International Federation of Journalists, and the International Press Institute. The Committee to Protect Journalists  said Alsu’s arrest is “the most egregious instance to date of the abusive use of Russia’s foreign agents’ legislation against independent press.”

RFE/RL joins Alsu’s family and organizations such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the National Press Club in calling on the U.S. government to designate her as “wrongfully detained” and mobilize the resources necessary to secure her release. Since Alsu’s detention, 14 civil society groups and 24 U.S. lawmakers have written to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to urge him to make this designation. 

How You Can Support Alsu

Use this advocacy toolkit to call for Alsu’s release. Share the graphics below to your social media accounts and add the hashtag #FreeAlsu to your posts.

Write to Alsu

In a letter to her supporters in December 2023, Alsu wrote: “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!”

RFE/RL encourages supporters to write to Alsu. The UK-based NGO Rights in Russia will translate your letter into Russian and, depending on your preference, mail the translated letter on your behalf or return the letter to you for posting. 

Media Center

Latest Updates

Journalists in Trouble: President Biden Calls for Alsu Kurmasheva’s Release

President Biden calls for Alsu Kurmasheva’s release; RFE/RL hosts World Press Freedom Day reception with families of imprisoned journalists; and more.

Russia Extends Detention of Alsu Kurmasheva; Her Imprisonment “As Outrageous Today as It Was Six Months Ago”

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) condemns the latest extension of American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva’s pretrial detention.

Journalists in Trouble: Alsu Kurmasheva’s Family Fights for Her in Washington  

Alsu Kurmasheva’s family advocates for her; Vladyslav Yesypenko marks three years in detention; Iran’s judiciary targets RFE/RL journalists; and more. 

Family of Detained RFE/RL Journalist Alsu Kurmasheva Meets Top Biden Aides, Lawmakers, Hostage Advocates in Washington, D.C.

The husband and children of American RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva—who is spending her 150th day in a Russian prison—spent a productive week in Washington, D.C.

Journalists in Trouble: Russian Authorities Declare RFE/RL an “Undesirable Organization”

RFE/RL declared “undesirable” in Russia; Russian court upholds Alsu Kurmasheva’s detention; Kazakh authorities block accreditation to RFE/RL journalists; and more.

RFE/RL Condemns Extension of American Journalist’s Detention in Russia

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is outraged by today’s decision in Kazan, Russia to extend the detention of imprisoned American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva until April 5.

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