U.S. Citizen Arrested in Russia for Treason After Donating to Ukrainian Charity

Russia police car | Source: commons.wikimedia.org

A U.S. citizen, who also holds Russian citizenship, has been taken into custody by Russian authorities on charges of treason. The allegations stem from a minor donation she made to a Ukrainian charity. Ksenia Karelina, a 33-year-old Los Angeles resident, is facing these serious charges for contributing $51.80 to Razom, a charity based in New York that provides aid to Ukraine.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia stated that since February 2022, Karelina had been actively gathering funds for a Ukrainian organization. These funds were allegedly used to buy tactical medicine items, equipment, weapons, and ammunition for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Karelina was arrested in Yekaterinburg, a city in central Russia, where she had gone to visit her family.

The penalties for being found guilty of treason in Russia are severe, with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Karelina became a U.S. citizen in 2021 and was working as an aesthetician and spa manager at a Beverly Hills hotel. Her family, including her ex-husband and mother-in-law, are appealing to the Biden administration for assistance in securing her release.

Eleonora Srebroski, Karelina’s former mother-in-law, expressed their distress to the New York Post. She described Karelina as a kind-hearted person who would never intentionally cause harm to anyone. The family is deeply concerned over her arrest, especially considering the recent reports of the detention of supporters of Alexei Navalny.

The New York Times reported that Karelina was officially charged with treason on February 7. However, there remains some ambiguity as to how Russian authorities discovered her donation to Razom, as the charity does not publicly disclose its donors in compliance with U.S. privacy laws.

Razom CEO, Dora Chomiak, expressed her shock at the arrest. She criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for his disregard of international treaties and foreign nationalities in pursuit of his own interests. Chomiak urged the U.S. government to do everything within its power to secure the release of those unjustly detained by Russia and hold its political and military leadership accountable for their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.