LA Woman Arrested in Russia After Giving 50 Bucks to Ukraine

Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters
Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters
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A Los Angeles resident has been arrested in Russia on treason charges for allegedly raising money for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, state media reported Tuesday.

The 33-year-old woman, who holds both American and Russian citizenship, was also accused of taking part in “public rallies in support of the Kyiv regime” while in the U.S., Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said, according to the TASS news agency. The report added that the woman was accused of “proactively” collecting funds for Ukraine since the Feb. 2022 invasion, and claimed that the cash was “used to purchase tactical medicine, equipment, weapons and ammunition” for the Ukrainian military.

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State media released a video of the woman, who was not identified by FSB, with her face covered while she’s escorted in custody by a camouflaged officer. The Daily Beast has contacted the State Department for comment.

Russia’s Mediazona outlet named the woman as Ksenia Karelina. According to First Department, a human rights project that supports those accused of treason, Karelina was detained on treason charges the same day as Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

She was reportedly first detained on Jan. 27 in the city of Yekaterinburg—the same place where Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was taken into custody last year. Police initially accused her of “petty hooliganism” for swearing, according to Mediazona, which she denied in court.

First Department claims that Karelina was still in a special detention center when she was charged under Article 275 of Russia’s Criminal Code, which pertains to “high treason.” She could now face up to 20 years in prison. The human rights group claims that she’s specifically accused of transferring $51.80 from an American bank account to Razom, a nonprofit which describes itself as “contributing to the establishment of a secure, prosperous, and democratic Ukraine.”

The woman’s arrest is just the latest of an American citizen inside Russia. In addition to Gershkovich, who was arrested in March 2023 on espionage charges, journalist Alsu Kurmasheva—a dual U.S.-Russian citizen—was also detained last year and accused of failing to register as a foreign agent. She has been in prison since October.

A Moscow court on Tuesday rejected Gershkovich’s appeal against the latest extension of his pre-trial detention, meaning he’ll remain behind bars until at least March 30—over a year since his arrest. The U.S. government considers him wrongfully detained, while the Journal has also vehemently denied the spying allegations against him.

Putin earlier this month said in his interview with Carlson that a prisoner swap for Gershkovich is being discussed between Russia and the U.S., though he did not say who Moscow wants to be freed in return. In Dec. 2022, Moscow released WNBA star Brittney Griner—who had been convicted on drugs charges—in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who was serving time in the U.S. on terror-related offenses.

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