(New York) – Russian journalists Konstantin Gabov and Sergey Karelin were recently detained on charges of participating in an extremist organization. They each face sentences of two to six years in prison.

“As Russia closes itself off from the rest of the world, journalists are risking their lives to report independent news to help people understand what is happening in the country. We are particularly concerned that Gabov and Karelin have been singled out for having worked with international news outlets in the past,” said Polina Sadovskaya, PEN America’s Eurasia and Advocacy Director. “Their arrests signify a further escalation in the crackdown on independent media in Russia.” 

Gabov and Karelin are accused of producing content for a YouTube channel operated by the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, established by recently deceased opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Both have backgrounds working for foreign press – Gabov with Reuters and Karelin with the Associated Press and Deutsche Welle. Karelin has dual Russian and Israeli citizenship. 

Gabov and Karelin join a growing list of arrested journalists, including Sergei Mingazov, an editor for the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, who was recently placed under house arrest for spreading “false information” about the Russian military. Independent journalist Ksenia Klochkova was subject to a home raid earlier this month as she is apparently considered a witness in the trial in absentia of her former colleague and exiled journalist Andrei Zakharov. And Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal and Alsu Kurmasheva of RFE/RL, both dual US-Russian citizens, remain behind bars despite ongoing negotiations for their release. The Committee to Protect Journalists recorded 22 journalists jailed in Russia at the end of 2023. 

“Journalism must never be treated as a crime, and yet this is what is currently happening in Russia. The international community must hold the Russian government accountable for violating freedom of expression and the right of Russian citizens and people around the world to learn about what is happening in Russia.”