Ex-KGB agent on arrest of US-Russian citizen: ‘An American in prison is an asset you can trade’

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Ex-KGB agent Jack Barsky said that the arrest of dual U.S.-Russian citizen Ksenia Karelina in Yekaterinburg is “nothing new” for the Putin regime. 

Karelina was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on charges of treason for reportedly donating money to a Ukrainian charity.  

Her employer, the Ciel Spa in Beverly Hills, Calif., released a statement saying their “beloved esthetician and friend” had traveled to Russia to see her 90-year-old grandmother, parents and younger sister. 

“She has been accused of treason for allegedly donating $51.80 to a Ukrainian charity in the U.S.,” the statement read in part. “To know Ksenia is to love her and this heartbreaking news is so difficult to share but it must be done to spread her story and seek justice.”

BOYFRIEND OF BALLERINA DETAINED IN RUSSIA SAYS ‘IT MAKES ME HOPEFUL THAT AMERICA’S FIGHTING FOR HER’

Barsky told “The Story” the ballerina was likely arrested because Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to “scare more people.”

 “Scare everybody. The world, as well as, you know, the Russians, his own citizens,” he said.

“Arresting Americans is nothing new,” Barsky continued “That happened during Stalin’s time, all the way through today. Because, you know, an American in prison is an asset that you can trade.”

Ksenia Karelina

The Biden administration traded Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for WNBA player Brittney Griner in 2022 after the two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested on drug charges and sentenced to nine years in a penal colony. 

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan are also being held in Russia on espionage charges. The U.S. State Department considers both Gershkovich and Whelan as wrongfully detained. 

Putin said in an interview earlier this month that it may be possible to free Gershkovich in exchange for a Russian prisoner. 

“We are willing to solve it but there are certain terms being discussed via special services channels. I believe an agreement can be reached,” he explained.

AMERICANS TOLD TO LEAVE RUSSIA ‘IMMEDIATELY’ OR FACE FALSE ARRESTS, US WARNS

Former DIA intelligence officer Rebekah Koffler said Putin’s regime has “always used hostage diplomacy as a form of statecraft and now that the confrontation between Moscow and Washington is at its highest ever, the Kremlin is ratcheting up this tactic to the maximum.” “No American, especially of Russian or Slavic descent, should go to Russia,” she added.

Whelan and Gershkovich.

Karelina’s ex-mother-in-law, Eleonora Srebroski, told FOX11 she is worried about Ksenia’s well-being. 

“I know there is a lot of physical abuse in Russian jails and mental abuse too, so I am concerned, and my heart is breaking for her,” Srebroski said. “If we do not help her, nobody else will. She’s so gentle. She’s so sweet… always positive.” 



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