The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) has detained Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, in Yekaterinburg, and a criminal case has been opened against him for espionage.

Gershkovich had travelled there to write about the attitude of Russians to the war and the recruitment of residents to the Wagner Group Private Military Company (PMC). On the trip, he was accompanied by local activist Yaroslav Shirshikov.

On 29 March, the Yekaterinburg edition of Vechernye Vedomosti (Evening News) reported that people in civilian clothes had detained a man by pulling a sweater over his head near the Bukowski Grill restaurant, where Shirshikov and Gershkovich had previously met. Shirshikov suggested that this could have been the American reporter.

An unofficial Telegram channel of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor’s office also wrote about Gershkovich: “Yesterday, Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich was detained in Yekaterinburg. The situation is dire.”

A source among the Western journalists who work in Moscow told Meduza media outlet that in addition to Yekaterinburg, Gershkovich had visited Nizhniy Tagil, where Uralvagonzavod, a military industry company, is based. 

Gershkovich has lived in Moscow for about six years, covering events in Russia and Ukraine for the Wall Street Journal.

He previously worked for Agence France-Presse, The Moscow Times and the New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal posted its latest article by Gershkovich on 28 March.