June 29, 2024

29.06.2024 – Russia: Evan Gershkovich’s Espionage Trial, No Accreditation for Schneider from ORF and EU Media Ban

Evan Gershkovich’s Espionage Trial
The espionage trial of American journalist Evan Gershkovich has begun in Russia on 26 June 2024, marking the first case against a Western journalist since the Cold War. Gershkovich, born in October 1991 in United States of America, reporter for the Wall Street Journal (https://www.wsj.com/), was apprehended in Yekaterinburg (Екатеринбург), Russia, in March 2023. After spending 15 months in Lefortovo, a high-security prison in Moscow (Москва), Russia, he has been relocated back to Yekaterinburg, about 1,500 kilometers east towards the Ural mountains, for his trial’s commencement, which is being conducted behind closed doors.

Before the hearing, observers briefly saw Gershkovich, who appeared with a shaved head but seemed in good spirits. Several weeks ago, court documents revealed that prosecutors accused Gershkovich of gathering “secret information” at a defense plant under Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) instructions, a charge that could lead to a 20-year prison sentence.

The United States (U.S.) government and international experts argue that Russian authorities are leveraging this case, along with other Americans detained in Russia on dubious charges, to coerce Western countries into releasing prisoners Moscow deems valuable.

Earlier this year, President of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (Влади́мир Влади́мирович Пу́тин) suggested in an interview with Tucker Carlson that he might consider a prisoner exchange involving Gershkovich for Vadim Krasikov (Вадим Красиков), a convicted assassin serving a life sentence in Germany. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister recently stated that they are waiting for a response from the U.S. regarding proposals for a swap.

The next hearing in Gershkovich’s case is scheduled for 13 August 2024.

Schneider case

On Wednesday 26 June 2024, the Russian Foreign Ministry withdrew the accreditation of Carola Schneider, head of the Austrian public radio and TV – Österreichischer Rundfunk – Austrian national public broadcaster (ORF) office in Moscow. Schneider must leave the country. Since 2011 she has with one interruption reported from Moscow. She was head the ORF office in Moscow from 2011 to 2021 and again since autumn last year. Following the expulsion from Russia of Maria Knips-Witting from ORF just over two weeks ago, there are no longer any ORF journalists represented in Russia. The officials in Russia first sent back to Austria Maria Knips-Witting – her accreditation was withdrawn. Both cases happen as reaction to the case of the TASS correspondent in Austria. Austria considered the TASS correspondent as a spy, he lost his accreditation in Austria and an extension of his residence permit was denied. According to Russian officials, the Austrian correspondent would be allowed to work in Russia again if Vienna will allow the Tass representative to work from Austria.

Russia’s Ban on EU Media

In a retaliatory move against the European Union’s sanctions, Russia has banned 81 media outlets from EU countries. This action follows the EU’s decision to ban four Russian state media organizations as part of its sanctions package.

The banned outlets span multiple countries, impacting news agencies, television channels, and newspapers. Here is the list of banned media:


1. Public radio and television ORF (orf.at);

2. Private Mediengruppe Österreich with oe24.at;


3. Le Vif Journal (levif.be);

4. Knack Journal (knack.be);



5. Mediapool information portal (mediapool.bg);

6. Newspaper 24 часа – 24 Chasa (24chasa.bg);



7. Politis newspaper (politis.com.cy);

8. Cyprus Times news portal (cyprustimes.com);

9. Cyprus Mail newspaper (Cyprus-mail.com);


Czech Republic

10. Ceska Televize Television (ceskatelevize.cz);

11. Seznam Zpravy portal (seznamzpravy.cz);



12. Berlingske Journal (berlingske.dk);

13. Information Portal (information.dk);



14. Information portal propastop.org;

15. The national broadcasting corporation ERR (err.ee);

16. Delfi portal (delfi.ee);



17. Ilta-Sanomat newspaper (is. fi);

18. Iltalehti Newspaper (iltalehti.fi);

19. Helsingin Sanomat newspaper (hs. fi);

20. Radio and television company Yleisradio (yle.fi);



21. LCI Television (tf1info.fr);

22. Le Monde newspaper (lemonde.fr);

23. La Croix newspaper (la-croix.com);

24. Liberation newspaper (liberation.fr);

25. Lexpress Journal (lexpress.fr);

26. Radio France radio station (radiofrance.fr);

27. Agence France-Presse news agency (afp.com, afpforum.com);

28. CNews Television (cnews.fr);

29. Arte Television (arte.tv);



30. Spiegel (spiegel.de);

31. Weekly Die Zeit (zeit.de);

32. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung- FAZ (faz.net);



33. Public Greek Radio and Television EPT (ert.gr, ertnews.gr);

34. Skai media holding (skai.gr);

35. Mega TV Channel (Megatv.com);

36. Proto Thema newspaper (noweprotothema.gr);



37. Information portal 444.hu;



38. National broadcasting company RTE (rte.ie);

39. The Irish Times newspaper (irishtimes.com);

40. The Irish Independent newspaper (independent.ie);



41. National TV channel LA7 (la7.it);

42. RAI – Public radio and television (rai.it);

43. La Stampa newspaper (lastampa.it);

44. La Repubblica newspaper (repubblica.it);



45. Latvian Television and Lithuanian Radio 4 (lsm.lv);

46. apollo.lv portal;

47. Internet television tvnet.lv;

48. Diena portal (diena.lv);



49. LRT portal (lrt.lt);

50. Portal 15min.lt (15min.lt);

51. Portal lrytas.lt (lrytas.lt);



52. Public television Television Malta TVM (tvmnews.mt);

53. Times of Malta newspaper (timesofmalta.com);

54. The Malta Independent newspaper (independent.com.mt);

55. Malta Today newspaper (maltatoday.com.mt);



56. Nos radio and television company (nos.nl);

57. Nrc newspaper (nrc.nl);

58. Algemeen Dagblad newspaper (ad.nl);



59. Belsat Television, including its Polish online editorial office (belsat.eu, belsat.pl);

60. Portal of the newspaper Новая Польша (novayapolsha.eu, novayapolsha.com, novayapolsha. pl);



61. RTP Internacional TV channel (rtp. pt);

62. Publico newspaper (publico.pt);

63. Expresso newspaper (expresso. pt);

64. Analytical and information project Observador (observador.pt);



65. Pro TV International Television (stirileprov.ro, protv.ro);

66. Digi24 Television (digi24.ro);

67. B1TV Television (b1tv.ro);



68. SME newspaper (sme.sk);

69. Dennik N portal (dennikn.sk);



70. Nova24 portal (Nova24.si, Nova24tv.si);

71. Democratia portal (Demokracija.si, Democratja.eu);



72. El Mundo newspaper (elmundo.es);

73. El Pais newspaper (elpais.com);

74. EFE news agency (efe.com);

75. Spain’s national television, Televisión Española (rtve.es);



76. Television SVT (svt.se);

77. Sveriges Radio radio station (sverigesradio.se);


Pan-European media

78. Agence Europe (agenceurope.eu);

79. Politico (www.politico.eu, www.politico.com);

80. Svoboda Satellite Package project (rsf.org);

81. Euobserver portal (Euobserver.com).

This media ban list, arranged in alphabetical order by country, includes leading media, demonstrating the extensive reach of Russia’s countermeasures in its ongoing media and information war with the EU.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs allegedly stated that this ban was a response to the EU’s actions, accusing EU member states of spreading false information about “Russia’s military operations”, what means Russian aggression on Ukraine.The Ministry hinted that if the EU lifts its restrictions on Russian media, Russia might reconsider its bans on the mentioned media outlets. The inclusion of Belsat TV and its Polish website in the ban highlights the political nature of these decisions, as Belsat has already been labeled as “extremist” in Belarus and blocked in Russia.

Despite the ban, Russians and Belarusians continue to access Belsat content via VPNs and social media platforms like Facebook, Telegram, and YouTube.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemns the Russian government’s decision to block access to 81 media outlets from the European Union. This action is a grave infringement on press freedom and an attempt to suppress independent journalism. SEEMO stands in solidarity with the affected media organizations and calls Russia for the immediate reversal of this unjust ban, emphasizing the importance of free and open access to information for all citizens.

SEEMO is also alarmed about the information that Russia withdrew the accreditation of Carola Schneider, head of the ORF correspondent office in Moscow.

Finally SEEMO is monitoring the case of Evan Gershkovich, a case against all international rules and a clear attack on press freedom.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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