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Russias Press Freedom ‘Worst Since the Cold War’

The recent arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is a warning to foreign journalists operating in Russia and a sign of the Kremlin’s desire to clamp down on dissent, according to press freedom watchdogs. Gershkovich, a US citizen, was detained by Russian authorities in March on suspicion of spying, and he faces up to 20 years in jail on espionage charges. Campaigners believe the Kremlin may be seeking to expand its control of information and tighten the repression of critics. Russia has already taken steps to block critical newspapers, social media platforms and independent voices, criminalising the “discrediting” of the military. The repression has led to the closure of some media outlets, while others have been forced to cut staff numbers or leave the country. Gershkovich’s arrest marks a significant step in the crackdown on independent journalism, according to Jeanne Cavelier, Head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Reporters Without Borders. It could also encourage self-censorship among ordinary Russians who do not support the government, campaigners say.

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