Russia Arrests US-Russian Ksenia Khavana on Treason Charges for donating $51.80 for Ukraine

Who Is Ksenia Khavana ?

Russia has detained a US-Russian dual citizen on charges of treason, alleging that she raised funds for Ukraine’s army. The woman, identified as Ksenia Khavana, was arrested in Los Angeles and accused of organizing fundraisers for a Ukrainian group that used the money for medical supplies, equipment, and weapons.

Russia arrests Ksenia Khavana for Treason on donating $51.80

Ksenia Khavana, who previously faced charges of violating public order, is now held in Ekaterinburg without bail. The arrest came after she sent a small amount of money to a New York-based nonprofit supporting Ukraine on the day of Russia’s invasion in 2022. Ksenia Khavana, who studied in Ekaterinburg before relocating to the US and becoming a citizen, worked as a spa manager in Beverly Hills.

Who Is Ksenia Khavana ?

Ksenia Khavana, aged 33, holds dual citizenship of the United States and Russia.

According to the independent Russian news outlet Mediazona, she is identified as Ksenia Karelina, her maiden name, and is reported to have acquired U.S. citizenship through marriage to an American.

Isabella Koretz, the proprietor of Ciel Spa at the SLS Beverly Hills where Khavana has been employed for eight years, confirmed that Khavana, a former ballet dancer, initially came to the U.S. to pursue studies at the University of Maryland in Baltimore before relocating to Los Angeles.

Ksenia Khavana, who is divorced and has no immediate family members residing in the U.S., has formed a close bond with Koretz over the years, with Koretz describing their relationship akin to that of family.

According to Koretz, Khavana typically visited her family in Russia at least once a year, frequently during the Christmas and New Year period. This year, Ksenia Khavana embarked on a two-week trip to Russia in early January from Istanbul, intending to spend time with her 90-year-old grandmother, parents, and younger sister.

Koretz became increasingly alarmed when Khavana ceased responding to messages and calls after arriving in Russia. Concern escalated when Khavana failed to return from her trip as scheduled in mid-January.

Describing Khavana as exceptionally kind-hearted, Koretz emphasized her disbelief that Khavana could be involved in any wrongdoing.

What Is Ksenia Khavana Accused Of ?

Khavana is charged with sending $51.80 from her US bank account to Razom for Ukraine, a New York-based non-profit group, on the day President Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Russia’s neighbour in 2022, the lawyers’ collective added.

In recent years, Moscow has arrested multiple US citizens, leveraging them for exchanges with valuable Russians detained in Western countries. For instance, in 2022, US basketball star Brittney Griner, who pleaded guilty to drug charges, was released in exchange for Viktor Bout, infamous as the “Merchant of Death,” a notorious arms dealer.

On Tuesday, a Moscow city court dismissed the latest appeal from Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained by the FSB on espionage charges in Ekaterinburg since last year. Gershkovich, along with The Wall Street Journal and the US government, vehemently denies the accusations against him.

Recently, President Putin hinted at the possibility of exchanging Gershkovich for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian assassin serving a life sentence for the murder of former Chechen rebel Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin in 2019. In a recent interview with US conservative figure Tucker Carlson, Putin stated, “I do not rule out that the person you refer to, Mr. Gershkovich, may return to his motherland. We want the US special services to think about how they can contribute to achieving the goals our special services are pursuing.”

Paul Whelan, a US Marine veteran, was convicted of espionage charges in Russia in 2020 and is currently serving a 16-year sentence in a rural prison colony. Both the US and Whelan deny the allegations against him.

Another individual, US-Russian dual citizen and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporter Alsu Kurmasheva, remains detained after being arrested in October on charges related to violating a law on “foreign agents”.

As of now, the US embassy in Moscow has not provided an immediate response to inquiries regarding the latest detention.

Since the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, the FSB has significantly ramped up its prosecutions of Russian citizens for offenses such as treason, espionage, and “collaborating with foreign states or organizations”. In 2023 alone, at least 101 individuals in Russia were charged under these statutes, a figure surpassing the total of the preceding several years combined, as reported by Mediazona, an independent news outlet. During this period, 63 people faced charges of treason, with 37 of them ultimately being found guilty, according to the First Department.

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