‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Radio Liberty journalist Alsu Kurmasheva is a political prisoner

30 November 2023

Alsu Kurmasheva has been remanded in custody on charges of failing to register as a ‘foreign agent’

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’, in accordance with international standards, considers Alsu Kurmasheva a political prisoner. She has been charged with failing to submit documents necessary for her inclusion in the register of ‘foreign agents’. The criminal prosecution of Alsu Kurmasheva violates her rights to freedom of expression and fair trial.

We demand the immediate release of Alsu Kurmasheva and an end to her criminal prosecution.

Who is Alsu Kurmasheva and what are the charges against her?

Alsu Kurmasheva is editor of the Tatar-Bashkir service of Radio Liberty (Idel.Realii). She has Russian and US citizenship. For many years Kurmasheva has lived and worked in Prague. In her journalism, she deals with the issues that face ethnic minorities in Russia, in particular civic initiatives to protect and preserve the Tatar language and culture.

On 20 May 2023, Kurmasheva flew to Russia for family reasons. On 2 June she was to fly back to Prague, but she was detained at the airport. Both of her passports were confiscated and a criminal case opened against her for failing to notify the authorities about her second citizenship (Article 330.2 of the Russian Criminal Code). On 11 October she was fined 10,000 roubles, but was obliged to remain in Russia while she waited for her passports to be returned.

On 18 October Kurmasheva was detained on fresh charges of collecting publicly available information about Russia’s military activities without having submitted the documents required for inclusion in the register of ‘foreign agents’ (Article 330.1, Part 3, of the Russian Criminal Code). On 23 October 2023, Alsu Kurmasheva was remanded in custody.

Why do we consider Alsu Kurmasheva a political prisoner?

Kurmasheva’s case is the first criminal prosecution under Article 330.1, Part 3, of the Russian Criminal Code.

Under this article anyone who engages in ‘purposeful collection’ of publicly available information about Russia’s military activities or military-technology faces a term in prison unless they ask the Ministry of Justice in advance to include them in the register of ‘foreign agents.’ The article therefore imposes an indirect ban on the gathering of any information related to military matters, even of a non-classified and public nature.

In essence, Kurmasheva is being prosecuted for her work as a journalist. Her criminal case is a warning to all Russian journalists, especially those who work with foreign media and write about Russia’s war against Ukraine.

A detailed description of the case of Alsu Kurmasheva and the position of the Human Rights Project are set out on our website.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.

How can you help?

You can write a letter to Alsu Kurmasheva at the following address:

In Russian: 420030, Республика Татарстан, Казань, ул. Большая, 98, ФКУ СИЗО-2 УФСИН России по Республике Татарстан, Курмашевой Алсу Хамидовне, 1976 г. р.

English Translation: Alsu Khamidovna Kurmasheva (born 1976), Remand Prison No. 2, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Republic of Tatarstan, 98 Bolshaya Street, Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, 420030, Russia.

You can also send an electronic letter via the Zonatelekom service.

Please note that letters in languages other than Russian are highly unlikely to reach the recipient.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via our website.

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