Russia Extends Detention of former U.S. Consulate Staffer

May 18, 2023

A Russian court on Thursday extended by three months the detention of Robert Shonov, a former staffer at the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok.

Shonov, a Russian national, was arrested earlier this week in Vladivostok and is being held at the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow.

It’s the same detention center where Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is being  “wrongfully detained,” according to the U.S. State Department, on charges of espionage.

According to the Russian news agency TASS, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has charged Shonov with conspiracy for “collaboration on a confidential basis with a foreign state or international or foreign organization.”

Shonov worked for the U.S. Consulate General in Vladivostok for more than 25 years. In a statement, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the cabinet “strongly condemns” his arrest.

“Like any diplomatic mission in the world—including Russia’s Mission to the United States—the U.S. Embassy contracts for local services to operate its diplomatic mission,” Miller goes on to say. “Mr. Shonov’s only role at the time of his arrest was to compile media summaries of press items from publicly available Russian media sources.”

In 2021 Russia ordered all local staff to the U.S mission be terminated, according to Miller, after which Shonov was employed by a private company that provided services to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow—which he did, Miller said, “in strict compliance with Russia’s laws and regulations.”

Shonov is facing up to eight years in prison, though the specifics of the charges against him have not been publicly released.

PHOTO:  Lefortovo Prison in Moscow

Source: A.Savin, WikiCommons

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