US State Dept condemns arrest of its former consulate employee in Russia

His being targeted under the confidential cooperation' statute highlights the Russian Federation's blatant use of increasingly repressive laws against its own citizens

AP Washington
US flag, US, united states

Photo: pexels

Listen to This Article

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday condemned the arrest of a former employee of a U.S. consulate in Russia, the latest example of the country's crackdown against its own citizens and foreigners.

Russia's Tass news agency said Robert Shonov was detained in the Russian city of Vladivostok on suspicion of "cooperation on a confidential basis with a foreign state, international or foreign organization. Tass didn't say when the detention occurred or provide any details of the allegation.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Shonov is a Russian national worked at the now-closed U.S. consulate in Vladivostok for more than 25 years. He said that after a Russian government order in April 2021 required dismissing all local employees from U.S. diplomatic outposts in Russia, Shonov worked at a company the U.S. contracted with to support its embassy in Moscow.

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, Miller said. His being targeted under the confidential cooperation' statute highlights the Russian Federation's blatant use of increasingly repressive laws against its own citizens.

Miller added, The United States strongly condemns the reported arrest of Robert Shonov and said the allegations against him are wholly without merit.

Tass said a Moscow court on Thursday would consider extending Shonov's arrest for three months. The news agency said he was being held in Moscow's Lefortovo prison on charges that carry a potential sentence of up to eight years in prison.

Also Read

Committed to security of diplomatic facilities, says US condemning attack

Pak consulate brings up 'freedom' of Uyghur, Islamabad says account hacked

Indian Consulate attacked by Khalistanis in Australia's Brisbane

Indian consulate building in San Francisco attacked by Khalistan supporters

India conveys strong protest to US over vandalism at Indian Consulate

Here's how much wealth you need to join the richest 1% across globe

Pak: One killed, 7 injured after police officer opens fire at girls school

Elizabeth Holmes loses final bid to stay out of prison in fraud conviction

Australia cancels Quad meeting in Sydney after Biden postpones visit

LIVE: Congress decision on Karnataka CM likely today, may split terms

Also held in Lefortovo is Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Gershkovich has been in custody since his March 29 arrest by Russia's security service on espionage charges that he, his employer and the U.S. government have denied.

Gershkovich's arrest rattled journalists in Russia and drew outrage in the West. The United States has declared Gershkovich to be wrongfully detained and demanded his immediate release.

Since invading Ukraine in February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin has widened the scope of a years-old crackdown on criticism of government policies, other forms of dissent and actions that his government finds objectionable. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Russians have been fined, jailed or fled the country because of the crackdown.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: May 17 2023 | 8:53 AM IST

Explore News