Russia charges U.S. consulate worker with spying over the war in Ukraine


Russia has actually charged a previous U.S. consular staff member with gathering info for Washington on the war in Ukraine.

The nation’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, stated in a declaration launched early Monday that Robert Shonov, who was apprehended in May, deals with charges of “cooperation on a personal basis with a foreign state.”

Shonov is a Russian resident who was a long time worker of the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok, on Russia’s Pacific coast.

The FSB stated Shonov was being paid to gather info about what the Kremlin calls its “unique military operation” in Ukraine, the mobilization effort throughout Russia and “bothersome problems and their effect on the demonstration activity of the population ahead of the 2024 governmental election in Russia.” The security service declared Shonov performed those jobs from September and up until his arrest.

It likewise called 2 U.S. Embassy staffers in Moscow who, the FSB claims, supervise Shonov straight.

” As part of the examination, FSB is performing investigative actions targeted at determining all the scenarios of the unlawful activities of the Russian,” the security firm’s declaration stated, including that it has actually served summonses to question the 2 U.S. diplomats pointed out.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow did not right away react to an ask for remark.

The State Department condemned Shonov’s arrest, calling the claims “completely without benefit,” and stated they totaled up to Russia’s “outright usage of significantly repressive laws versus its own people.”

Russia has actually amped up jail sentences for state treason, consisting of espionage, and it continues to criminalize any transactions of its people with foreign nations amidst its war in Ukraine and a crackdown on dissent not seen considering that the Soviet age.

The State Department stated that Shonov was utilized by the embassy in Vladivostok for more than 25 years which his “just function at the time of his arrest was to put together media summaries of press products from openly offered Russian media sources.”

At the time of his arrest, the Russian state news company Tass reported that Shonov had actually been charged with “conspiracy,” however it did not state what triggered the charges. It stated Shonov might confront 8 years in jail.

On Monday, Tass shared a video supposedly revealing Shonov’s arrest and interrogation in which he sets out how he performed the jobs for the U.S. NBC News might not confirm the credibility of the video, where and when it was shot or whether Shonov was offering his testament under pressure.

Russia has actually apprehended numerous Americans in the last few years on allegations of espionage.

Journalist Evan Gershkovich, who was apprehended on spying charges in March, stays behind bars waiting for trial. His detention was extended up until Nov. 30 recently. Gershkovich and his company, The Wall Street Journal, have rejected the charges.

Meanwhile, previous U.S. Marine Paul Whelan is serving a 16- year jail sentence for espionage. He likewise preserves his innocence. Washington thinks about Gershkovich and Whelan to be wrongfully apprehended and has actually been attempting to protect their releases.

Yuliya Talmazan

Yuliya Talmazan is a London-based reporter.

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