Ksenia Karelina’s Carefree Life Shattered by Arrest

(Daily360.com) – A Russian-born amateur ballerina who works in Los Angeles has been arrested in Russia on charges of treason. Ksenia Karelina is a dual citizen of the United States and Russia who was arrested while visiting her family in Russia to celebrate the New Year. Her American boyfriend, Chris Van Heerden, said they spent four days together in Istanbul before she left to travel to Russia by herself.

Van Heerden said he expressed concerns to Karelina about returning to Russia but she told him not to be worried because she was still a Russian citizen. When she arrived in Russia her phone was seized by authorities and she was released after a short detention. Karelina spent the next three weeks with her family but was arrested two days before she was set to leave for America. Van Heerden says the arrest happened when Karelina went to retrieve her confiscated phone before her scheduled return to California where she works at a Beverly Hills spa.

Karelina was initially arrested on “petty hooliganism” charges but they were soon upgraded to treason charges based on a $51 donation she made to aid Ukraine. The donation was made to an organization called Razom that Russian authorities say is a facilitator group that collects money for Ukrainian organizations. Karelina has been held for one month and had her first hearing postponed because she didn’t have legal representation.

Van Heerden spoke out publicly for the first time to CNN and said almost no lawyer will take her controversial case. He said only one attorney will even consider it but he is asking for an exorbitant fee. Karelina’s former mother-in-law and ex-husband have both come out in support of her and said her arrest was “stupid politics.”

Complicating the matter is Russia’s policy of not recognizing dual citizenship; Russia considers this an entirely domestic matter. Van Heerden says he is hopeful the US government will work to get her freed. State Department officials say that will be difficult but they are looking into it.

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