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Russian-American ballerina who was arrested on treason charges after $51 Ukraine donation faces closed-doors trial

Russian-American ballerina who was arrested on treason charges after  Ukraine donation faces closed-doors trial

A Russian-American ballerina, who was accused of “high treason” in Russia after donating $51 to a Ukrainian charity, is facing a closed-door trial in Russia.

Ksenia Karelina, who was born in Russia and became a United States citizen in 2021, faces a sentence of 12 years to life in prison if found guilty, Reuters reported. Her trial began on Thursday in a court in Yekaterinburg and is being held in secret.

A notice on the court website said the trial had been adjourned until August 7, the outlet reported. The reason for the adjournment is not immediately clear.

Karelina, 33, was arrested in February on accusations of treason for allegedly contributing $51.80 to Razom for Ukraine, a New York-based non-profit group that provides non-military aid to the war-torn country.

She donated the same day that Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Karelina was building a life in Los Angeles working at a luxury hotel spa in Beverly Hills.

However, her life changed on January 28 when she was arrested while visiting family in Russia. Her arrest sparked outrage and drew headlines.

Ksenia Karelina, a dual U.S.-Russian national detained on suspicion of treason, after a $51 donation to Ukraine faces trial in Russia.
Ksenia Karelina, a dual U.S.-Russian national detained on suspicion of treason, after a $51 donation to Ukraine faces trial in Russia. (Ksenia Karelina via Facebook/First Department)

The Russia’s Federal Security Service at the time issued a statement explaining that she had been “proactively collecting funds… which were subsequently used to purchase tactical medical items, equipment, means of destruction and ammunition for the Ukrainian armed forces.”

Her boyfriend, Chris Van Deerden, told CNN: “She doesn’t intervene with anything about the war.”

“I believe America will bring her back to me,” he added.

She was charged with treason after she had already been detained in the county and sentenced to 14 days in detention for violating public order.

She and her boyfriend had been in Istanbul to celebrate the new year when he decided to go home to the US and she went to the Russia.

Karelina attends a court hearing in Yekaterinburg on June 20. She faces 12 to life if she is convicted of treason.
Karelina attends a court hearing in Yekaterinburg on June 20. She faces 12 to life if she is convicted of treason. (via REUTERS)

Van Deerden told The Los Angeles Times in late February: “I thought it might be dangerous for her to go, with everything going on with the war in Ukraine, but she reassured me that she was Russian and that everything would be fine.

He continued: “So, for her birthday in December, I bought her a ticket. She was so excited. Now, I am hitting myself over the head about it.”

After she was arrested, the charity released a statement condemning her arrest and calling on the US government “to continue to do everything in its power to demand that President Putin release all those unjustly detained by Russia and to hold Russia’s political and military leadership accountable for their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”


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