Two Journalists Imprisoned in Russia for Alleged Collaboration with Alexei Navalny’s Group

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Two Russian journalists, Konstantin Gabov and Sergey Karelin, have been detained and face charges of extremism for their association with a group established by the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

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The journalists were involved with Navalny’s YouTube channel, NavalnyLIVE, which is operated by the Foundation for Fighting Corruption. This organization, dedicated to exposing corruption within the circles of President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking officials, has been labeled as “extremist” by the Russian government.

Gabov, who was apprehended on Saturday, allegedly produced “photo and video materials” for the channel, according to Moscow’s Basmanny district court. A freelance producer, Gabov has previously collaborated with several media outlets including Reuters, which has yet to respond to requests for comment.

Karelin, a dual citizen of Russia and Israel, was taken into custody on Friday from the Murmansk region in northwest Russia. His charges stem from his supposed “participation in an extremist organization.” Before these accusations, Karelin had worked with major news organizations such as the Associated Press and Deutsche Welle, the latter being banned in Russia in 2022.

In light of these events, the Associated Press expressed deep concern for Karelin’s detention and is actively seeking more information regarding his situation.

These arrests are part of a broader crackdown on dissent that has intensified since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. New legislation enacted since the onset of the war has criminalized what the state deems as “false” information about military activities or any statements that discredit the military. This has effectively silenced Russian media from reporting any narratives that deviate from the government’s depiction of the war.

Adding to the string of recent detentions, Forbes journalist Sergey Mingazov was placed under house arrest on charges of spreading false information about the Russian military, as reported by state media RIA Novosti.

Similarly, journalist Antonina Favorskaya is currently held in pre-trial detention until at least May 18, accused of involvement in an “extremist organisation” due to her social media activities linked to Navalny’s foundation.

These arrests underscore the escalating risks faced by journalists in Russia, as evidenced by the case of Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter for The Wall Street Journal, who has been held on espionage charges in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison since March 2023.

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