Opinion | Jailed in Putin’s Russia for Speaking the Truth

Perhaps Mr. Gershkovich was seized as a pawn to swap for Russians held in the West, as the American basketball player Brittney Griner was in 2022. Perhaps it was because Mr. Gershkovich’s parents are Russian Jews who emigrated in the 1970s, so Mr. Putin views him, as he views Ukraine, as within his sphere of repression.

As the first anniversary of Mr. Gershkovich’s incarceration approaches, there is no evidence of a potential trade, though Mr. Putin did suggest last month that it could happen. And there is no indication that a trial is imminent. Instead, Mr. Gershkovich will soon have spent a year at Lefortovo, which was built in the 19th century and was notorious in the Soviet era as an interrogation center for political prisoners, who are typically held in solitary confinement. Human contact is strictly limited: Only lawyers are usually allowed to visit.

Ms. Kurmasheva, a dual Russian and American citizen, lived with her husband and two daughters in Prague and worked there as an editor for R.F.E./R.L.’s Tatar-Bashkir service. She traveled to the Russian city of Kazan last May to visit her ailing mother but was prevented from leaving, purportedly for failing to register her American passport. On Oct. 18 she was detained for failing to register as a “foreign agent,” and she has been held since.

Introduced in 2012, the foreign agent law has been a central feature of Mr. Putin’s efforts to portray the West as a devious enemy seeking to undermine Russia. The law requires any organization or individual in Russia who receives money from abroad to register as a “foreign agent,” a phrase that, in Russian, carries a clear connotation of espionage. In December, authorities in Kazan began yet another investigation of Ms. Kurmasheva, this one for spreading false information about the Russian Army, and on Feb. 1, her pretrial detention was extended for two months.

Her husband, Pavel Butorin, who also works for R.F.E./R.L., has said he suspects the new case involves a book that Ms. Kurmasheva and her colleagues coedited called “Saying No to War: 40 Stories of Russians Who Oppose the Russian Invasion of Ukraine,” a collection of radio interviews with Russian people who expressed their antiwar feelings in different ways. (One of them said she was arrested for braiding a green ribbon in her hair.) Opposing the war is a crime in Russia, and R.F.E./R.L. itself has been branded an “undesirable organization,” putting Russians at risk for any connection with it.

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