Moscow Journalist Requests Political Asylum In United States

Russian journalist Pyotr Koronayev, who used to work for the Moscow-based Baza news website, and his wife, Tatyana Kulikova, have crossed the border from Mexico and requested political asylum in the United States.

Baza reported on July 14 that the couple was initially placed in an immigration detention center, but Koronayev was later released, while his wife remained in custody. It was not clear when the couple crossed the border.

According to Baza's report, Koronayev and Kulikova feared for their safety in Russia because of their public statements opposing Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and their support of imprisoned opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

Last month, Russian journalist Yelizaveta Kirpanova of Novaya gazeta and her husband, Grigory Manucharov, also crossed the Mexican-U.S. border and asked for political asylum in the United States, citing similar reasons.

They were also initially placed in an immigration detention center and then released pending a decision.

Many journalists, politicians, activists, and others have left Russia since the Kremlin launched its wide-scale attack on Ukraine on February 24.

In March, President Vladimir Putin signed a law that calls for lengthy prison terms for distributing "deliberately false information" about Russian military operations as the Kremlin seeks to control the narrative about its war in Ukraine.

The law envisages sentences of up to 15 years in prison for the distribution of "deliberately false information" about the Russian military that leads to "serious consequences."

It also criminalizes "calls against the use of Russian troops to protect the interests of Russia" or "discrediting such use," with penalties of up to three years in prison. The same provision applies to calls for sanctions against Russia.