In a Speech on the Senate Floor, Durbin Demands the Release of American Citizens Held by the Russian Government

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, today spoke on the Senate floor condemning the Russian government for the unjust detainment of American citizens in Russia and called fortheir immediate release.  Specifically, Durbin cited the dubious arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was charged on fraudulent charges of espionage one year ago.

“He [Gershkovich] has spent more than a year in pretrial detention in a notorious Moscow prison, including in isolation with limited medical attention,” said Durbin.  “Even during the height of the Cold War, the Soviet police state didn’t arrest and hold American journalists in such a brazen and transparently crude manner—the longest was a U.S. News and World Report reporter who was released after 13 days.”

During his speech, Durbin also cited the arrest of American citizen Paul Whelan by the Russian government, who was convicted on June 15, 2020, on bogus fraudulent espionage charges.  His speech also notes the jailing on spurious charges of additional American citizens, including Radio Free Europe journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, Marc Fogel, and Ksenia Khavana.  Durbin also called for the release of Russian opposition leader and U.S. Legal Permanent Resident Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was sentenced for criticizing Putin’s disastrous war in Ukraine.

“I met with him [Kara-Murza] a month before his arrest and, despite two murder attempts by poisoning, he was determined to go back to Russia to fight for democracy.  His wife, Evgenia, is here this week for a bipartisan event on the anniversary of his arrest,” said Durbin.  “And, let us not forget Brittney Griner, whose arrest in 2022 on trumped up charges was cynically used to secure the release of notorious Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout.”

“It is outrageous that Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, is taking innocent Americans hostage.  It is the act of a desperate rogue regime, similar to the criminal actions of countries such as Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela,” Durbin continued.

“And to those detained and their families, I want you to know you are not forgotten.  We will continue to advocate for your release,” Durbin concluded.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.