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The American Journalist on Trial in Russia

The American Journalist on Trial in Russia

Update: 2024-07-037
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The episode delves into the ongoing trial of Evan Gershkovich, an American journalist for The Wall Street Journal, who has been detained in Russia for over a year on espionage charges. The trial is widely considered a sham, with no evidence presented and the conviction seen as a foregone conclusion. The episode explores the complex geopolitical backdrop of Gershkovich's arrest, highlighting Putin's desire to escalate tensions with the West, crack down on journalism, and use Gershkovich as a bargaining chip. The episode also discusses the potential for a prisoner swap, with Putin seeking the release of Vadim Krasnikov, a Russian assassin convicted in Germany, in exchange for Gershkovich. The episode concludes with a discussion of the trial's significance, emphasizing its role in Putin's domestic propaganda efforts and the broader context of the war in Ukraine.

Outlines

00:00:00
Evan Gershkovich's Trial

This Chapter discusses the ongoing trial of Evan Gershkovich, an American journalist for The Wall Street Journal, who has been detained in Russia for over a year on espionage charges. The trial is widely considered a sham, with no evidence presented and the conviction seen as a foregone conclusion. The episode explores the complex geopolitical backdrop of Gershkovich's arrest, highlighting Putin's desire to escalate tensions with the West, crack down on journalism, and use Gershkovich as a bargaining chip.

00:01:45
Evan Gershkovich's Background

This Chapter provides background information on Evan Gershkovich, including his career as a journalist, his personal interest in Russia, and his upbringing in a Russian-speaking household. The chapter also discusses the hostile environment for journalists in Russia, particularly in the years leading up to the invasion of Ukraine.

00:06:42
Gershkovich's Arrest

This Chapter details the circumstances surrounding Gershkovich's arrest in March 2023, highlighting the Kremlin's involvement and the lack of evidence presented against him. The chapter also explores the motivations behind Putin's decision to arrest Gershkovich, including his desire to escalate tensions with the West, crack down on journalism, and use Gershkovich as a bargaining chip.

00:11:41
Gershkovich's Imprisonment

This Chapter describes Gershkovich's experience in the Lefortovo prison in Moscow, emphasizing the extreme isolation and lack of contact with the outside world. The chapter also discusses the importance of letter writing as a means of communication with Gershkovich and the impact of his imprisonment on his friends and colleagues.

00:17:47
The Prisoner Swap

This Chapter explores the possibility of a prisoner swap as the most realistic way for Gershkovich to be released from Russia. The chapter discusses the potential for a deal involving the release of Vadim Krasnikov, a Russian assassin convicted in Germany, in exchange for Gershkovich. The chapter also examines the complexities of such a deal, including the German government's reluctance to engage in prisoner exchanges and the political difficulties involved in releasing a convicted assassin.

Keywords

Evan Gershkovich
Evan Gershkovich is an American journalist who works for The Wall Street Journal. He was detained in Russia in March 2023 on espionage charges and is currently on trial. Gershkovich is known for his reporting on Russia and has a personal interest in the country due to his upbringing in a Russian-speaking household.

Espionage
Espionage is the practice of spying or using secret agents to obtain information about a foreign government or organization. Gershkovich is accused of espionage by the Russian government, but there is no evidence to support these claims. The accusation is widely seen as a politically motivated attempt to silence Gershkovich and intimidate other journalists.

Prisoner Swap
A prisoner swap is an agreement between two countries to exchange prisoners. In the case of Gershkovich, the US is seeking a prisoner swap with Russia in order to secure his release. The US is hoping to trade a Russian prisoner for Gershkovich, but it is unclear who, if anyone, the US has that Putin would want.

Vadim Krasnikov
Vadim Krasnikov is a Russian assassin who was convicted in Germany for a political assassination in Berlin in 2019. Putin has expressed interest in a prisoner swap that would involve the release of Krasnikov in exchange for Gershkovich. The German government is reluctant to release Krasnikov, but it is possible that they could be persuaded to do so in exchange for the release of Gershkovich and other American prisoners.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin is the President of Russia. He has been in power since 2000 and is known for his authoritarian rule and his crackdown on dissent. Putin has been accused of using Gershkovich's arrest as a way to escalate tensions with the West, crack down on journalism, and use Gershkovich as a bargaining chip.

Russia
Russia is a country in Eastern Europe. It is known for its vast size, its rich history, and its complex political system. Russia has a long history of suppressing dissent and persecuting journalists. Gershkovich's arrest is part of a broader pattern of repression in Russia.

The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is a major American newspaper known for its business and financial reporting. Evan Gershkovich is a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and was arrested in Russia while reporting on the country.

The New York Times
The New York Times is a major American newspaper known for its in-depth reporting and its commitment to investigative journalism. The episode features a reporter from The New York Times who discusses the trial of Evan Gershkovich and the broader context of the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe that is currently at war with Russia. The war in Ukraine is a major geopolitical event that has had a significant impact on the world. The episode discusses the war in Ukraine as a backdrop to the trial of Evan Gershkovich and the broader context of the conflict between Russia and the West.

Journalism
Journalism is the practice of gathering and reporting news. Journalists play an important role in informing the public and holding those in power accountable. The episode discusses the importance of journalism and the dangers that journalists face in countries like Russia.

Q&A

  • What are the charges against Evan Gershkovich?

    Evan Gershkovich is accused of espionage by the Russian government, but there is no evidence to support these claims. The accusation is widely seen as a politically motivated attempt to silence Gershkovich and intimidate other journalists.

  • What is the likelihood of Gershkovich being convicted?

    Gershkovich's conviction is seen as a foregone conclusion. The trial is widely considered a sham, with no evidence presented and the Russian judicial system known for its lack of independence and due process.

  • What are the potential outcomes of Gershkovich's trial?

    The most likely outcome is that Gershkovich will be convicted and sentenced to a lengthy prison term. However, there is also the possibility of a prisoner swap, with the US seeking to trade a Russian prisoner for Gershkovich. The success of such a swap depends on the willingness of both sides to negotiate and the availability of a suitable prisoner to trade.

  • What are the motivations behind Putin's decision to arrest Gershkovich?

    Putin's motivations for arresting Gershkovich are complex and multifaceted. He likely sees it as a way to escalate tensions with the West, crack down on journalism, and use Gershkovich as a bargaining chip. The arrest also serves as a propaganda tool to reinforce the narrative of a hostile West and the need for a strong Russian state.

  • What is the significance of the trial for Putin's domestic audience?

    The trial is being covered in the Russian media and is being used by Putin to reinforce the narrative of a hostile West and the need for a strong Russian state. The trial is also being used to demonize journalists and to discourage dissent.

  • What is the role of the war in Ukraine in the context of Gershkovich's trial?

    The war in Ukraine is a major geopolitical event that has had a significant impact on the world. The trial of Evan Gershkovich is part of a broader conflict between Russia and the West. Putin is using the war in Ukraine as an opportunity to crack down on dissent and to consolidate his power.

  • What is the impact of Gershkovich's arrest on the freedom of the press in Russia?

    Gershkovich's arrest is a stark reminder of the dangers that journalists face in Russia. The arrest has created a climate of fear and intimidation among journalists, both Russian and foreign. The arrest is also a sign of the shrinking space for independent journalism in Russia.

  • What is the role of international pressure in securing Gershkovich's release?

    International pressure is playing a significant role in efforts to secure Gershkovich's release. The US government is working with its allies to put pressure on Russia to release Gershkovich. The international community is also condemning the trial as a sham and calling for Gershkovich's immediate release.

  • What is the future of foreign correspondence in Russia?

    The future of foreign correspondence in Russia is uncertain. The arrest of Evan Gershkovich has made it clear that reporting from Russia is a dangerous business. The Russian government is increasingly hostile to foreign journalists and is using a variety of tactics to silence them. The future of foreign correspondence in Russia will depend on the willingness of journalists to take risks and the ability of the international community to hold Russia accountable for its actions.

  • What is the significance of Gershkovich's case for the broader fight for press freedom?

    Gershkovich's case is a reminder of the importance of press freedom and the dangers that journalists face around the world. The case is also a reminder of the need for the international community to stand up for journalists who are being persecuted for their work.

Show Notes

Evan Gershkovich, an American journalist for The Wall Street Journal, was detained in Russia more than a year ago. He has been locked up in a high-security prison and accused of spying for the U.S. government.

His trial, held in secret, is now underway.

Anton Troianovski, the Moscow bureau chief for The New York Times, discusses the complicated geopolitics behind Mr. Gershkovich’s detention and the efforts to get him home.

Guest: Anton Troianovski, the Moscow bureau chief for The New York Times.

Background reading: 

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily. Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday.

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The American Journalist on Trial in Russia

The American Journalist on Trial in Russia

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