When the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) journalist Evan Gershkovich was detained in Russia on suspicion of espionage, the Russian Federation did not obey the unspoken rule “do not touch accredited journalists,” which is another sign of war and an escalation of confrontation with the West. This was stated in a conversation with The Insider by human rights activist, lawyer of the "First Department" Ivan Pavlov. Thus, the authorities show that absolutely any journalist, both Russian and foreign, can fall under this article, and they also hope to exchange a “hostage” journalist for some Russian citizen detained on such a charge.
“A journalist was taken hostage, accused of espionage – “gathering data representing state secrets.” A journalist really collects certain information, this is his professional activity, and the fact that in our wartime any information can become so sensitive that the authorities will treat it as secret should not surprise anyone. This is such a signal that is sent to foreign journalists that now the unspoken rule does not apply. Any foreign or Russian journalist who simply honestly and professionally performs his duties can be charged with espionage or treason.
Referring to this article, Russia can detain foreign journalists, the law allows it. When a journalist is accredited, he has an unspoken immunity, but now he has stopped working. To release a journalist, there is a thorny legal path. It is unlikely that this high-profile decision was not taken carefully, if the journalist is not released in the near future, it is necessary to prepare for a serious trial. This is a foreign journalist of a respected media, so there will be a political part, they will try to release them in a diplomatic and political way. This path is more or less clear - secret negotiations will be conducted and the fate of not only Evan, but also someone in whom the regime in Russia is interested will be decided.
Russia is also signaling that it is shutting down and will no longer tolerate foreign journalists, at least not granting them tacit immunity. The Russian regime will now have the opportunity to bargain over the release of the people it needs. Now someone is constantly being detained - either Russians who are accused of espionage, or pro-Russian agents. This is already trade and the diplomatic path of negotiations.
If we talk about the detention ( the witness said that the security forces took a man in civilian clothes into a minibus, pulling a sweater over his head - approx. The Insider ), the security forces act exactly like that. It is similar to detention in such cases. It is clear that special forces may be present, but in general this fits into the picture that is typical for such cases. Sometimes a bag or some kind of bag is put on the head, since the law does not prescribe this procedure. This is a common practice that few people pay attention to. Whether it is legal or not will need to be analyzed based on the feelings that Evan experienced during the arrest. If force was used against him for no reason, then we can talk about it. But the prospects for claims in this area seem vague to me.”
WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich was detained on March 29 on suspicion of espionage, TASS reported on the morning of March 30, citing the FSB. The UK asked the court to arrest Gershkovich. According to Russian agencies, the WSJ journalist, on instructions from the United States, was collecting information about one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex that constitutes a state secret. Prior to his arrest, Gershkovich was in Yekaterinburg and was preparing material on the attitude of Russians towards the Wagner PMC. He managed to interview a local resident Yaroslav Shirshikov. Vecherniye Vedomosti reported on March 29 that a reader of the publication witnessed a person being detained at the Bukowski Grill restaurant on Karl Liebknecht Street in Yekaterinburg, where Shirshikov was talking with Gershkovich. According to him, security forces in civilian clothes brought a man into a minibus, pulling a sweater over his head. Meduza, citing a source among Western journalists working in Moscow, reports that Gershkovich was also in Nizhny Tagil, where the Russian defense plant Uralvagonzavod is located.
The representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, commented on the situation, saying that the activities of the journalist Gershkovich in the Russian Federation "have nothing to do with journalism." She stated that the journalistic visa was used for cover. Press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov, in turn, said that this was not about suspicions, the journalist was detained for espionage "red-handed." What exactly the journalist did, Peskov did not specify. Against this background, Oleg Matveychev, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications, considered the activities of the WSJ in Russia unnecessary. He said in an interview with the radio station "Moscow speaking" that the bureau should be liquidated "to hell with it", and all accreditations should be canceled.
“We haven’t seen and don’t see anything good from this newspaper, not only are they engaged in propaganda and fakery here, besides this, it turns out, they are also engaged in espionage. Given that they shut down all of our media in America, it’s long overdue for a tough, symmetrical response – just kick it out.”