Russian-American national arrested for “treason” in Russia

A Russian-American national, resident of Los Angeles, was arrested in Yekaterinburg in Russia for “treason”, the Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Tuesday, accusing her of having raised funds for the Ukrainian army. “The Federal Security Service put an end to the illegal activities of a 33-year-old resident of Los Angeles, holder of Russian and American nationalities, in Yekaterinburg,” the FSB said in a statement.

Investigation for “treason”

The young woman, who has not been identified, was arrested as part of an investigation for “treason” because she allegedly collected, since the start of the Russian assault against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, “ funds for the benefit of a Ukrainian organization, which then used them to purchase tactical medical means, equipment, weapons and ammunition for the armed forces of Ukraine.

The FSB also accuses him of having participated “in the United States, on several occasions, in public actions in support of the kyiv regime”. A video, broadcast by the state agency Ria Novosti, shows a young woman, in a white down jacket and a white cap pulled down over her eyes, being handcuffed by a hooded FSB agent. Several American nationals are detained in Russia, including journalist Evan Gershkovich, arrested almost a year ago for espionage, also in Yekaterinburg. He rejects these accusations, like his relatives, his employer, the Wall Street Journaland the American government.

Towards an exchange of prisoners?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he wants to negotiate a prisoner exchange with Washington, citing the case of a man, convicted of a sponsored assassination attributed to Russia, who is in prison in Germany. Evan Gershkovich should see the extension of his pre-trial detention confirmed during an appeal hearing on Tuesday in Moscow.

A former American marine Paul Whelan, imprisoned in Russia since 2018, is also awaiting an exchange, and rejects the accusations of espionage which earned him a 16-year prison sentence. A Russian-American journalist, Alsu Kurmasheva, whose Prague-based media Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is financed by the American Congress, was arrested in October 2023. According to Russian media, she is accused of dissemination of “false information” about the Russian army in Ukraine, a crime punishable by prison.

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