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Arrested WSJ Reporter Evan Gershkovich’s Family Breaks Their Silence

The family of Evan Gershkovich, the American Wall Street Journal reporter who has been detained in Russia since March on espionage charges, said he believed it was “his duty” to report on the Russian people, despite the risks of being in the authoritarian country.

“He loves the Russian people,” Gershkovich’s mother told the Wall Street Journal during a new interview released on Friday.

The outlet sat down with reporter’s parents and his sister to hear their perspective about his shocking arrest at the hands of the Russian government last month.

Gershkovich, was detained by Russian authorities in Yekaterinburg, Russia on March 29. He was charged with gathering “information constituting a state secret about the activities of an enterprise within Russia’s military-industrial complex,” Russian state media outlet Tass claimed at the time.

Of course, Gershkovich, who was reporting in Russia for the Wall Street Journal, denied the charges, as did his employer. Earlier this week, President Joe Biden declared that Gershkovich had been “wrongly detained” and called the arrest “totally illegal.”

During their interview with the Wall Street Journal, Gershkovich’s family spoke about the “shock” they received upon hearing the news of Evan’s arrest. Though his parents, who fled Russia decades ago while it was under Soviet control, admitted they had a feeling something was off about their son’s time over there.

Gershkovich’s mother, Ella Milman, stated, “It was a shock. At the same time, I had this uncertainty… That’s why I reached [out] to him on Monday, and on Wednesday he was arrested.”

She told the outlet that news of her son’s arrest reminded her and her husband of the oppressive regime they left to come to America long ago. “It was just like, crushing, totally crushing. That experience all came back from the Soviet Union.”

The outlet mentioned how Gershkovich’s parents separately left their home country in 1979, immigrating to New York City, where they both met while working at the same company.

They married and settled in New Jersey, where they had two kids, Evan and Danielle. Gershkovich’s parents told the outlet they raised their kids to appreciate the family’s Russian heritage early on.

Danielle told the outlet, “Our parents raised us to have pride in where we come from. We got to be proud of where we come from and tried to share that as much as we could in school.”

Evan’s love for his Russian heritage and his affinity for the Russian language naturally led him to his first job as a reporter in Moscow. His sister claimed that his “passion” for Russian culture really developed while he was there.

Eventually, Evan’s love for Russia would connect his parents back to the country they had to flee. His mother said, “We saw Russia through his eyes. Everything was exciting, everything was beautiful.” She added that she eventually “accepted the new Russia” after coming to know it through Evan.

Evan’s passion for Russia would also inspire him to commit to reporting there during crisis and really try to convey the “nuance” and “beauty” of the country and its culture despite it being portrayed in the media as a “terrifying, cold place,” his sister said.

Gershkovich was compelled to stay and cover the country after its invasion of neighboring Ukraine last year. As the outlet noted, he became a Wall Street Journal Reporter covering the country around the time of the invasion.

Gershkovich’s mother relayed what her son told her about staying in Russia during the dangerous period. “He said, ‘I’m just one of the few left there.’” She added that he saw it as his “duty” to stay out of “love” for the country and its people.

She said, “I know that he felt like it was his duty to report, you know. He loves Russian people.” Gershkovich’s father, Mikhail Gershkovich, added, “He still does.” His mother agreed, “He still does, yes.”

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