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February 21, 2024

            While many people are focusing their thoughts and hopes on the safe return of the hostages taken during the Oct. 7, 2023 attack in Israel, we can't forget the arrests in Russia.  Many of the so-called "arrests" made by Russian authorities are quite questionable.  And, of course, there have been "prisoner exchanges" that freed a few of those Americans arrested on Russian soil over the past few years.

            Their most recent arrest is another example of the games they are playing with people's lives.

            Ksenia Karelina, a dual US-Russian citizen, is facing a life sentence in Russia for donating $51 to a Ukrainian charity called Razom.  According to their website, "Razom, which means 'together' in Ukrainian, is dedicated to upholding the principles of the Revolution of Dignity (Maidan) and actively contributing to the establishment of a secure, prosperous, and democratic Ukraine. We achieve this by creating, inspiring, and collaborating on initiatives that motivate people to think, partner and do."

            Karelina is an amateur ballerina who works at a spa in Beverly Hills, CA.  She was originally arrested in January in her hometown of Yekaterinburg for "petty hooliganism," and sentenced to 14 days in jail.  She had reportedly used coarse, obscene language in front of other citizens and was behaving rudely and defiantly. 

            Karelina, who traveled to Russia to visit her parents, filed an appeal to the charges.

            But, when she showed up in court on Tuesday, she was charged by the state Federal Security Service with treason for making the donation to the charity that is based in New York.  She could face life in prison for that $51 donation.

.           Of course, the US State Department will seek consular access to her.  She is just the latest American to be held by Russia's internal security services. According to a U.S. State Dept. spokesman, Russia does not recognize dual citizenship.

            Our government can issue all the travel warnings it wants but the reality is that people will want to return to their homelands to visit parents and other relatives, especially if they are ill or in danger.

            We have several U.S. citizens questionably jailed in Russia.  They are slow to be released, and only when the stakes and trades favor Russia.

            Rightfully, we are happy to get those citizens back.  Wrongfully, Russia scouts for the next person to stuff in a blindfold and handcuffs to see what they can get for them

.           Release a hostage and get a higher-profile felon in return?  No problem.  The motto of hostage takers seems to be "No problem, make the trade. We'll just take another one."  For another sweet deal.

· End of article ·  


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