Ballerina with Dual Citizenship Detained in Russia

( – A ballerina, who is a dual-citizen of the US and Russia, was arrested by Russian security while traveling abroad and is accused of committing treason for donating money to an organization that helped supply Ukraine’s war effort.

Media Zona, a Russian media outlet, identified the woman as Ksenia Karelina, a 33-year-old ballerina dancer based in Los Angeles, California.

Karelina was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB), according to their announcement on Tuesday, Feb. 20, which also accused her of high treason. The FSB statement claims that the ballerina was arrested in Yekaterinburg because she was identified as someone who helped raise money as well as donated to a Ukrainian aid organization that helped the country purchase weapons and other supplies for the Ukraine military.

According to a report from the New York Times, a group of Russian attorneys called Perviy Otdel is representing the woman and specializes in cases like hers involving treason accusations, among other politically-related charges. The group said that Karelina was accused of high treason for donating around $50 to a Ukrainian organization called Razom, which is a non-profit based in New York that provides aid for Ukraine’s counteroffensive war against the Russian invasion.

The FSB statement said Karelina was allegedly visiting the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg to see her parents, who are residents there. A video of Karelina’s arrest emerged on the Russian news outlet RIA Novosti that showed her in handcuffs with a white hat pulled down over her eyes as security officers escorted her away.

Karelina could face up to 20 years in Russian prison if she’s convicted. The Yekaterinburg court’s website confirmed the treason accusations and said she was scheduled to appear for an appeal hearing.

The ballerina isn’t the first American citizen to be detained in Russia, which has a history of jailing people under suspicions of espionage or treason. The latest example is Evan Gershkovich, an American journalist and Wall Street Journal correspondent who was arrested in the same city as Karelina in March 2023 and accused of being a spy.

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