Russia's government has summoned Iran's ambassador to Moscow to clarify the circumstances around the arrest of a Russian journalist in Tehran, Russian officials said Friday (October 4).
Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Iran's envoy was "invited to the Foreign Ministry to quickly clarify the circumstances" and ensure the rights of journalist Yulia Yuzik are observed.
Zakharova did not provide further details.
The Russian embassy in Tehran told AFP the mission had requested consular access to the journalist.
"She's being accused of working for Israeli security services," Andrei Ganenko, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Tehran, told AFP, citing the journalist's mother.
Journalist Boris Voitsekhovskiy, identified by Russian media as Yuzik's former husband, said she was detained in Tehran and jailed on Thursday. A court hearing is scheduled for Saturday (October 5), he said.
Voitsekhovskiy said Yuzik was detained by members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), who had broken down her hotel door. She was allowed to briefly call her family on Thursday night.
The IRGC was designated by the United States as a terrorist organisation in April, and US authorities were given expanded powers last month to target foreign financial institutions that support designated terrorists.
Yuzik, 38, has worked for a number of publications including the Russian version of Newsweek.
She authored two books including "Beslan Dictionary," which is based on testimony from survivors of the 2004 Beslan school massacre that claimed more than 330 lives, more than half of them children.
This latest incident may reflect the growing tensions between Moscow and Tehran.
Many observers say Russia's post-war ambitions in Syria are leading it to prolong its military presence and expand its political and economic influence in the country, and that is bound to cause friction with Iran, whose IRGC also seeks to consolidate its presence in Syria.
In the meantime, all signs point to an indefinite Russian occupation of Syria.
On a recent Russian Defence Ministry tour of Syria, journalists from AFP and other media saw Moscow's forces digging in for a long stay -- cementing a presence that will have implications across the Middle East.
At the base in Tartus, a sprawling complex on the eastern Mediterranean, Russian warships and submarines were on full display.
But reporters were also shown gymnasiums where off-duty soldiers lift weights and bakeries serve Russian pastries. There also are wooden saunas known as banyas and even onion-domed Orthodox chapels filled with icons.
"Every necessary comfort" is provided to the Russian soldiers, an officer said.