Standing with Evan

By Tom Porter
Friends, relatives, colleagues, and other supporters of Evan Gershkovich '14 take part in a series of coordinated activities around the world, including running, swimming, and a read-a-thon event—all designed to show continuing support for the journalist, who was detained a year ago this week.

It was March 29, 2023, when he was arrested while on assignment for The Wall Street Journal in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. Facing unsubstantiated charges of espionage, Gershkovich will likely remain in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison until at least June 30, while he awaits a trial date.

In his latest setback, Gershkovich was recently ordered by a Russian court to spend a further three months behind bars in pretrial detention.

"This verdict to further prolong Evan's detention feels particularly painful, as this week marks one year since Evan was arrested and wrongfully detained in Yekaterinburg simply for doing his job as a journalist," US Ambassador to Russia Lynne M. Tracy told journalists outside the courtroom. Tracy went on to describe the charges against Gershkovich as “categorically untrue. They are not a different interpretation of circumstances,” she added, “they are fiction."

gershkovich thumbnail portrait
Gershkovich's plight has attracted support from journalists across the globe

“It’s a ruling that ensures Evan will sit in a Russian prison well past one year,” said The Wall Street Journal in a statement. “It was also Evan’s twelfth court appearance, baseless proceedings that falsely portray him as something other than what he is—a journalist who was doing his job. He should never have been detained.” (Read the WSJ's latest updates on Gershkovich.)

“It's a grim anniversary,” said A. Leroy Greason Professor of English Brock Clarke, who has fond memories of teaching Gershkovich as a senior in his advanced fiction workshop. “It hurts to think about him still in prison on these obviously trumped-up charges. We need to keep his name in the news until he comes home.”

Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History Brian Purnell recalled teaching Gershkovich in his class on racial and ethnic conflict in US cities. “Evan may be unjustly imprisoned, but the values of critical inquiry, deep research, and strong writing that he learned and lived are thriving in the class I am teaching now, which he took as a freshman. Someday Evan will be free,” he added. “Until then, he inspires me to help my students strive for excellence because one of them could be a torchbearer of democracy in the making like Evan was when he was in their seat.”

gershkovich supporters in canada
Supporters of Evan Gershkovich in Canada

Gershkovich’s employers at Dow Jones & Company, owners of The Wall Street Journal, have been doing their part to keep Gershkovich’s plight front and center this week. The company launched a series of coordinated activities in the days leading up to the anniversary on Friday, March 29, which sees a coordinated “social media storm” throughout the day (#IStandWithEvan). Events included:

March 23: A Global Swim for Evan. In a nod to Gershkovich’s affinity for Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, NY, the event brought together supporters swimming at ten different Brighton-named beaches, including ones in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, as well as New York City.

March 27: A Global Run for Evan. Supporters held running events in several locations, including London, New York, Singapore, and Barcelona, in a further effort to draw attention to the reporter’s plight.

March 27-28: A Read-A-Thon for Evan. Friends and colleagues of Gershkovich  tuned in to take part in The Wall Street Journal’s Read-A-Thon for Evan Gershkovich. Over the course of twenty-four hours, they read selections of Evan’s reporting. Among those taking part was leading business journalist Andy Serwer ’81, P’16, P’20, currently editor at large at Barron’s.

“One day is a long time,” stated Serwer, and others, before doing their readings. “Evan’s work has been silenced for an entire year. Journalism is not a crime.”

Click here for more information on how you can support Evan Gershkovich.

Also in the Media:
Earlier this week, Gershkovich’s parents, who emigrated to the US from the Soviet Union before Evan was born, spoke to NBC News. “We are keeping ourselves optimistic,” said Gershkovich’s mother, Ella Milman. That, she added, is the best way she and her family can cope with the situation. Watch the interview.

Evan Gershkovich isn’t the only American being detained in Russia. Corporate security executive Paul Whelan is currently serving a sixteen-year sentence for espionage. The US government  claims he, too, is wrongfully detained. The Wall Street Journal this week reported how Whelan, Gershkovich, and other detainees have been used as bargaining chips by Russian leader Vladimir Putin. 
Read more media coverage about Evan Gershkovich.