Putin personally approved arrest of WSJ reporter
Evan Gershkovich (Photo:The Moscow Times/Handout via REUTERS)
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has personally approved the arrest of Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich on “espionage” charges, Bloomberg reported on April 12, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Gershkovich was arrested in Yekaterinburg on March 29, accused of spying on behalf of the United States. This is the first time Moscow charged a foreign journalist with spying in 37 years.
The sources told Bloomberg that the suggestion to arrest Gershkovich came from senior Russian security officials. Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov previously said the Russian president had nothing to with the decision, despite the FSB security service being under his direct control.
“The Russian president’s endorsement of the move reflects the growing influence of Kremlin hardliners who push for deepening a confrontation with Washington they view as irreversible,” the article says.
Yekaterinburg-based PR expert Yaroslav Shyrshykov, who accompanied Gershkovich at the time, said the journalist was working on an article about Russia’s Wagner Group private military company and its involvement in the war in Ukraine.
The Wall Street Journal has subsequently denied the accusations and demanded Gershkovich be immediately released.
Washington has designated Gershkovich as wrongfully detained, meaning that the State Department can now negotiate to have the journalist released.
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with the family of the WSJ journalist, assuring them that Washington is doing everything possible to “return him home as soon as possible.”
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