Lavrov asks Blinken not to paint WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich’s arrest ‘with a political brush’
Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, spoke on the phone on April 2, reports Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The U.S. initiated the conversation, which concerned Evan Gershkovich, The Wall Street Journal’s Russia correspondent, who is suspected of espionage in Russia.
Lavrov urged the U.S. “to respect the decisions of the Russian authorities, which are made in accordance with the legislation and international obligations of the Russian Federation.”
A Foreign Ministry press release says that Lavrov “emphasized that it is unacceptable for officials in Washington and the Western media to cause a stir with the clear intention of painting this case with a political brush.”
Lavrov, echoing the Kremlin and the FSB, said that Gershkovich “was caught red-handed trying to obtain secret information and using his status as a journalist as cover to collect state secrets.”
Blinken “conveyed the United States’ grave concern over Russia’s unacceptable detention of a U.S. citizen journalist” and called for Gershkovich’s immediate release.
Blinken urged Russia to release another U.S. citizen, Paul Whelan, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison on espionage charges. Lavrov and Blinken also discussed “the importance of creating an environment that allows diplomatic missions to carry out their work.”