Russia arrests more journalists on 'extremism' charges

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Three Russian journalists were arrested Friday and Saturday and detained, as Russia continues a crackdown on media inside the country.

Konstantin Gabov and Sergey Karelin were charged with “extremism” on Saturday, The Associated Press first reported. They stand accused of working with a political group associated with the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died earlier this year in prison.

The pair will be held in custody for at least two months before trial. The charges carry a sentence of two to six years in prison, if convicted.

Forbes Russia journalist Sergei Mingazov was also arrested Friday, his lawyer told AP, on charges of spreading misinformation. Prosecutors said he was jailed over reporting about alleged Russian war crimes in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.

The three journalists jailed in recent days are all Russian citizens. Karelin holds a dual Israeli citizenship, and previously worked as a cameraman for the AP and the German outlet Deutsche Welle.

“The Associated Press is very concerned by the detention of Russian video journalist Sergey Karelin,” the AP said in a statement. “We are seeking additional information.”

Mingazov worked a freelance reporter for Reuters, Deutsche Welle and other outlets.

Russian prosecutors said the two reporters worked with the Anti-Corruption Foundation, a watchdog group associated with Navalny’s political opposition. Russian critics and the U.S. government have accused Russian leaders of being responsible for Navalny’s death.

The arrests come as the Russian government cracks down on dissent as the invasion of Ukraine drags into a third year. In the wake of the war, the government has passed laws criminalizing what it deems false information about the military, or statements seen as discrediting the military, effectively outlawing any criticism of the war in Ukraine or speech that deviates from the official narrative.

Among journalists detained in Russia is an American, The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich. Gershkovich passed one year in prison last month, charged with espionage. The Journal and State Department have blasted the charges as false, and the Biden administration has committed to pursing a prisoner exchange to free him.

Gershkovich is yet to face trial, and will remain in custody pending a trial until at least June.

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