Russia is rounding up more journalists a year after the arrest of Evan Gershkovich

London CNNSix journalists working for independent media outlets in Russia were arrested in a span of just a few hours this week on the eve of the anniversary of American reporter Evan Gershkovich’s detention in the city of Yekaterinburg.

The journalists include Antonina Favorskaya, who covered the late Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Thursday.

Favorskaya, who works for the independent Russian media outlet SOTA Vision, is accused of “extremist activities” because of her coverage of Navalny and his work, the media freedom organization said in a statement.

On Friday, Gershkovich marked the grim milestone of one year in Russian detention. Shortly after his arrest, the Wall Street Journal reporter was charged with espionage — an accusation vehemently denied by Gershkovich, his employer and the US government. He was the first journalist to be arrested on such charges since the Cold War, and the Russian government has yet to provide any evidence to support its claim.

Favorskaya is the journalist who filmed what would later become Navalny’s last video before he died. The opposition activist could been seen laughing and joking as he appeared at a court hearing via video link from the penal colony where he was serving his sentence.

The Investigative Committee, Russia’s equivalent of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, had requested Favorskaya’s arrest for “participating in an extremist organization,” Russian state news agency TASS has reported.

According to the independent outlet Mediazona, over the last two years Favorskaya covered all of Navalny’s court hearings and traveled to the penal colonies where he was serving his sentence. She also followed developments at the cemetery where Navalny was buried.


The six journalists, including Favorskaya, were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday, RSF said.

“With six new arrests in a span of a few hours, accompanied by violence, threats and searches, the authorities are stepping up their persecution of the last independent journalists and media in Russia,” said Jeanne Cavelier, head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“RSF condemns the arbitrary arrests and unacceptable violence against these journalists,” Cavelier added.

Favorskaya was arrested while she was being released after spending 10 days in detention in Moscow on a charge of “disobeying the police,” RSF said.

She was detained along with two other journalists, Alexandra Astakhova and Anastasia Musayeva, who came to meet her and are now “involved in the case as witnesses,” according to SOTA Vision. “All three were searched.”