L.A. Ballerina Shakes Her Head in Disbelief at Her ‘Treason’ Trial in Russia

Ksenia Karelina, a dual citizen of Russia and the U.S., was snatched up by Russian authorities after reportedly donating just over $50 to Ukraine. Published Jun. 20, 2024 8:19AM EDT Sverdlovsk Regional Court/Handout via Reuters A 33-year-old Los Angeles woman with dual Russian-U.S. citizenship appeared in a Russian court Thursday to face treason charges after she was nabbed

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Ksenia Karelina, a dual citizen of Russia and the U.S., was snatched up by Russian authorities after reportedly donating just over $50 to Ukraine.

Allison Quinn

Ksenia Karelina, a dual U.S.-Russian national detained on suspicion of treason, attends a court hearing in Yekaterinburg, Russia, June 2src, 2src24, in this still image taken from video.

Sverdlovsk Regional Court/Handout via Reuters

A 33-year-old Los Angeles woman with dual Russian-U.S. citizenship appeared in a Russian court Thursday to face treason charges after she was nabbed by security services there during a visit home in January.

Ksenia Karelina, a Yekaterinburg native who immigrated to the U.S. about a decade ago, faces a lengthy prison sentence for donating just over $50 to a nonprofit that helps Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing war there. Russian authorities claim she supported the Ukrainian military.

In a brief video taken inside the courtroom at the Sverdlovsk Regional Court by local media, Karelina could be seen briefly smiling and shaking her head in disbelief as she sat in a detention cage. The press was allowed inside the courtroom only briefly to film and photograph her; the judge otherwise closed the proceedings.

Both Karelina and her lawyer declined to comment to reporters.

At the time of her arrest, Karelina had been visiting her hometown to celebrate the New Year’s holiday with her family. She’d been managing a Beverly Hills spa and had previously worked at a ballet theater in Baltimore.

Karelina’s boyfriend, Chris Van Heerden, had reportedly surprised her with the ticket home, and he said she was not at all concerned about visiting the country despite tensions over the war against Ukraine.

“She was like, ‘I’m going to be fine, it’s good. I’m Russian, I’m good,’” he told NBC LA after her arrest.

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