Russia Arrests US Citizen Over Alleged $51 Donation

She's been accused of treason and could face a 20-year sentence
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2024 9:02 PM CST

Russia's Federal Security Service—FSB—announced Tuesday that another American citizen is in Russian custody. The FSB said a 33-year-old dual Russian-American citizen based in Los Angeles was arrested on suspicion of treason, the Guardian reports. According to the legal NGO Perviy Otdel, Ksenia Khavana was arrested in Yekaterinburg at the end of January and accused of treason on Feb. 7. The FSB said she had collected funds for a Ukrainian organization and, while in the US, had "participated in public actions in support of the Kyiv regime." Khavana could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, though analysts suspect she will be used as a bargaining chip.

Perviy Otdel said the treason charge stems from a $51.80 donation Khavana made in the US to the charitable fund Razom for Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. Razom funds humanitarian causes including medical equipment for first responders. Khavana has also been identified as Ksenia Karelina, which could be her maiden name Maryland resident Eleanora Srebroski tells the New York Times that Khavana was once married to her son, but she moved to California when they split up in 2015. "She just brings light everywhere she goes." She says her former daughter-in-law is a "beautiful person" and she is not surprised by the donation to Ukraine. "Anyone who is hurt, she is on their side."

Isabella Koretz, president of a spa in Beverly Hills, tells the Times that Khavana has worked there for eight years. The spa said Khavana was arrested after traveling to Russia to visit her grandmother, parents, and younger sister. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said American authorities are trying to get more information and secure consular access, the AP reports. He said US authorities have issued "very strong warnings about the danger posed to US citizens inside Russia." "If you're a US citizen, including a dual national residing in or traveling in Russia, you ought to leave right now," Kirby said. (More Russia stories.)

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