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Video: US citizen arrested in Russia

Handcuffs. (Andrei Calangiu/Dreamstime/TNS)
February 21, 2024

A United States citizen with dual citizenship in Russia has been arrested by Russian officials for “treason” after donating $51.80 to a Ukrainian charity.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) released a statement Tuesday explaining that the FSB had arrested 33-year-old Ksenia Karelina after she donated to Razom, a Ukrainian charity based in New York. According to The Daily Wire, Karelina could face up to 20 years in prison if she is convicted of treason by Russian courts.

“Since February 2022, she has been proactively collecting funds in the interests of one of the Ukrainian organizations, which were subsequently used to purchase tactical medicine items, equipment, weapons and ammunition by the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the FSB stated.

A video shared on social media by The Informant shows Karelina being led to court blindfolded and handcuffed.

According to The New York Times, Karelina was charged with treason on February 7 after being arrested in January in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The New York Post reported that Karelina had returned to Russia to visit her family. The outlet also noted that Russian media reported the dual citizen was first arrested on January 27 and that local police accused her of “petty hooliganism” for allegedly swearing.

According to The New York Post, Karelina became a U.S. citizen in 2021 and lives in Los Angeles, California. Karelina’s ex-husband and mother-in-law have urged President Joe Biden’s administration to intervene on her behalf.

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“We are all in shock,” Karelina’s former mother-in-law, Eleonora Srebroski, told The New York Post. “She is just a wonderful soul. She would never do anything evil to anyone. Knowing Ksenia, she would never do anything criminal.”

The Daily Wire reported that Russia’s discovery of Karelina’s donation to Razom remains a mystery as the Ukrainian charity does not publicly disclose records of charitable contributions due to U.S. privacy laws. While Russia has claimed that Karelina’s donation was used to pay for Ukrainian weapons, the charity organization raises money for medical assistance, such as hospital equipment, ambulances, and tourniquets, not military weapons, according to The New York Post.

“Razom is appalled by reports that a U.S.-Russian dual national has been arrested by Russian authorities for purportedly making a charitable donation to Razom for Ukraine in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” said Razom CEO Dora Chomiak said in a statement. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly shown that he holds no sovereign border, foreign nationality, or international treaty above his own narrow interest. His regime attacks civil society activists who stand up for freedom and democracy.”