Russia to remain quiet on prisoner swap talks as Evan Gershkovich marks a year in custody

Russia said silence is paramount when discussing talks about prison swaps potentially including The Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, whose detention will reach the one-year mark this week.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday that “certain contacts” are made when potential prisoner exchanges are mentioned, but they would have to be carried out privately.

“As for exchange matters, we have repeatedly stressed that there are certain contacts, but they must be carried out in absolute silence,” Peskov said according to Reuters.

Gershkovich has been detained close to a year following his March 2023 arrest in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. His detention was extended on Tuesday to June 30.

When Peskov was asked Thursday if there would be a prisoner exchange for Gershkovich and when the court would hear his case, he said, “We do not have information about the court — it is not our prerogative.”

Gershkovich, an American citizen, was charged with gathering state secrets of Russia’s military for the U.S. government. His employer, the U.S. and press freedom groups consider Gershkovich wrongfully detained.

The Biden administration has been working on a prisoner swap deal, but a definitive agreement has yet to be reached.

Ella Milman and Mikhail Gershkovich, his parents, attended President Biden’s State of the Union address earlier in March.

Russia has also held former Marine Paul Whelan since 2018 and still holds Russian American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, who works at Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

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