US Woman Arrested In Russia Over $50 Donation

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) revealed on February 20 that it arrested a former ballerina with dual American/Russian citizenship on suspicion of treason, NBC News reported.

Ksenia Karelina, 33, who resides in Los Angeles, was detained on January 27 while visiting Yekaterinburg in central Russia.

According to the FSB, since 2022, Karelina has taken a series of pro-Ukrainian actions, including raising funds for the Ukrainian military, posting anti-Russian sentiments on social media, and attending rallies in support of Ukraine.

Russian state media outlets later reported that among Karelina’s alleged pro-Ukrainian actions was a $51.80 donation to a charity.

The FSB, which jailed Karelina in early February, also released footage from after her arrest that showed the US citizen handcuffed and wearing a white hat over her eyes while being escorted by a masked guard.

ABC News reported on February 21 that the State Department confirmed Karelina’s arrest and said embassy officials in Moscow were attempting to learn more about the situation and were trying to gain access to her in jail.

However, in a February 21 press briefing, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller set expectations low, warning that Moscow had a history of refusing to recognize a dual Russian citizen’s American citizenship, which could make it difficult for embassy officials to gain access to Karelina or learn more details about her arrest.

Miller also cited the current lack of “regular engagements” embassy officials have with the Kremlin since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago.

Miller again urged Americans, particularly those with dual citizenship, not to travel to Russia under any circumstances. He said the State Department has tried to be as clear as possible that Americans would risk detention, arrest, and even imprisonment if they traveled to Russia.

Miller warned any American citizen who might be contemplating a visit to Russia “for any reason” not to go. He said he didn’t know how much clearer the State Department could be on that.