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Who is Evan Gershkovich and why is he on trial in Russia?

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Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is on trial on spying expenses in Russia. File
| Photo Credit: Reuters

U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich went on trial in Russia on June 26 on spying expenses, which he denies. Here is a brief information to his case.

Who is Evan Gershkovich?

Mr. Gershkovich is a 32-year-old American who grew up in New Jersey, the son of Soviet dad and mom who emigrated to the United States in 1979. He joined the Wall Street Journal in January 2022 and was among the many small variety of Western journalists to proceed reporting from inside Russia after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February of that yr.

When and why was he arrested?

The FSB safety service arrested him on March 29, 2023, in a steakhouse within the metropolis of Yekaterinburg, the place he was on a reporting journey.

He was accused of spying, which carries a sentence of as much as 20 years.

Prosecutors allege he was gathering data on the orders of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency about Uralvagonzavod, a Russian firm that makes tanks for the warfare in Ukraine. Since his arrest, he has been held for practically 16 months in Moscow’s Lefortovo jail.

Mr. Gershkovich and the Wall Street Journal vehemently protest his innocence. They say he was doing his job as a reporter accredited by Russia’s Foreign Ministry to work there. The WSJ says the trial is a sham and a responsible verdict is a foregone conclusion.

What does the Kremlin say?

The Kremlin says the case is a authorized, not a political, matter however has alleged from the beginning — with out presenting proof — that Mr. Gershkovich was caught “red-handed”.

President Vladimir Putin has mentioned Russia is open to a attainable prisoner alternate with the United States involving Gershkovich, and that contacts have taken place however should stay secret.

What is the U.S.’ stand?

Washington says Russia is utilizing Mr. Gershkovich as a bargaining chip and may instantly free him and Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who was convicted in 2020 and is serving a 16-year sentence for spying. It has designated each males as “wrongfully detained”.

What will the trial appear to be?

The trial is happening behind closed doorways, which means that the proceedings are secret and the legal professionals should signal non-disclosure agreements. No press, members of the family or U.S. embassy officers are allowed inside, though two U.S. consular workers travelled to Yekaterinburg for the beginning of the case and had transient entry to Mr. Gershkovich earlier than it started.

Wednesday’s listening to concluded after a number of hours and the subsequent one is on August 13, a sign that the case will drag on for a lot of months.

Evgeniy Smirnov, a lawyer specialising in circumstances of treason and espionage, mentioned there was no precedent in Mr. Putin’s Russia for a defendant in a spy case to be acquitted in courtroom.

But if Mr. Gershkovich is discovered responsible, it might clear the way in which for a deal on a prisoner swap — one thing that Russia mentioned, very early on in his case, might solely occur after a trial had taken place.

Judge Andrei Mineyev is listening to the case. He is the son of a policeman and has spent three many years working within the authorized system. He can be presiding over the treason trial that opened this month of Ksenia Karelina, a U.S.-Russian twin nationwide accused of donating funds to the Ukrainian armed forces.

In a 2021 interview, he mentioned he had solely overseen “three or four” acquittals in his profession. “The system is organised in such a way that, ideally, cases against innocent and uninvolved persons do not get to court at all. That’s why the percentage is so small. There is nothing wrong with that,” he mentioned.

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