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Treason trial for US citizen accused of donating to Ukraine begins in Russia

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 21, 2024 5:50 AM 2 min read
A Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer in assault gear in an undated photo. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Grigorenko/Getty Images)
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The trial of Ksenia Karelina, a U.S.-Russian dual national accused of treason for allegedly raising money for the Ukrainian military, began on June 20 in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.

Karelina, a 33-year-old resident of Los Angeles, was arrested in Russia earlier this year while visiting her grandparents. Authorities charged her with treason on the grounds that she donated $51.80 to the nonprofit organization Razom for Ukraine.

Her trial began June 20 in the Sverdlovsk regional court and was held behind closed doors. The next hearing will be held on August 7, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.

If convicted, Karelina faces up to 20 years in prison.

Razom for Ukraine said on Feb. 20 that it was "appalled by reports that a U.S.-Russian dual national has been arrested by Russian authorities for purportedly making a charitable donation" to the organization.

Karelina is one of several U.S. citizens currently detained in Russia.

Russian court officials announced on June 17 that the espionage trial of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter who has been jailed in Russia for over a year, will begin on June 26. Gershkovich is the first American journalist to be arrested for espionage in Russia since the Cold War.

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine accused of spying and arrested in 2018, is also considered to be wrongfully detained by the U.S. State Department.

Alsu Kurmasheva, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist with dual U.S. and Russian citizenship, was arrested in Russia in October 2023 for allegedly violating Russia's law on foreign agents. She is currently being held in pre-trial detention, which has repeatedly been extended.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Dec. 14 that he would be open to negotiating the return of jailed U.S. citizens under "mutually acceptable" conditions.

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