American journalist Ivan Gershkovich is on trial in Russia on charges of espionage: “A pawn on Putin’s chessboard”

Gershkovitch, his entourage, the Wall Street Journal, and the US government reject these accusations and call them a sham trial. “This charge is nonsense. Ivan is a hostage,” said Dirk Sauer of the independent Russian newspaper The Moscow Times in De Ochtend.

“He has been imprisoned for two purposes: to generally intimidate journalists into not writing independently and critically about Russia. Second, he is a pawn on Putin’s geopolitical chessboard, to be used in a prisoner exchange.”

According to Saur, there are a number of Russians whom Putin would like to release. These include an FSB hitman who was sentenced to life in prison in Germany and a couple recently exposed in Slovenia. “They are the so-called ‘sleepers’, Russians who have lived there for a long time and have integrated into society under a false identity. In reality, they are Russian spies.”

It is not immediately clear when the ruling is expected. It is also uncertain whether the prisoner exchange will actually take place. “On the one hand, you can interpret it positively, and on the other hand it could become very bad. Because if there is no exchange, he will get 20 years and he will stay there.”

If convicted, he will likely be sent to a prison camp in Siberia. “It requires a lot more physical effort, but the big advantage is that you see other prisoners and communicate with other people, and Ivan looks forward to that,” says Sawyer, who regularly communicates with Gershkovich by letter.

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Denton Watson

"Friend of animals everywhere. Evil twitter fan. Pop culture evangelist. Introvert."

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