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HomeWorldTreason trial of Russian American woman opens amid rising tensions

Treason trial of Russian American woman opens amid rising tensions

MOSCOW — The trial of a Russian-American dual citizen accused by Russia of treason began Thursday amid rising tensions between Washington and Moscow, including the arrests of two American journalists.

The trial is being held behind closed doors in Yekaterinburg, in the same court where the trial of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was arrested in March 2023 and charged with espionage, begins next week.

The defendant was identified by Russian authorities as Los Angeles resident Ksenia Karelina, although US media reports often use the surname Khavana, her ex-husband’s surname.

Karelina was born in Yekaterinburg and was arrested in February while visiting family.

Russia’s main domestic security agency, the Federal Security Service, accuses Karelina of raising money for a Ukrainian organization that supplied weapons, ammunition and other supplies to the Ukrainian military. According to media reports, her boyfriend said she made a one-time donation of about $50 to a Ukrainian organization.

Karelina faces a prison sentence of 20 years if found guilty. Almost all Russian criminal cases that come to trial end in conviction.

Gershkovich, the most prominent American behind bars in Russia, is accused of collecting classified information from a tank factory in the Yekaterinburg region. His employers deny the accusation and the US State Department has said he was wrongfully detained.

Gershkovich’s trial, also closed, begins Wednesday.

A journalist for the US-funded Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe with dual US and Russian citizenship has been held since October on charges of gathering military information and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Since deploying troops to Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has cracked down on dissent and passed laws criminalizing criticism of the Ukraine operation and comments deemed to discredit the Russian military. Since then, concerns have grown that Russia could target U.S. citizens for arrest.

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