I recently learned about Ksenia Karelina’s arrest in Russia. According to CNN, “Ksenia, a dual citizen, went to Russia to visit 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 US.”
She became an American citizen in 2021 but Russia does not accept dual citizenship and she now faces a potential 20 year prison sentence if found guilty. Treason? Because of a fifty-dollar donation supporting Ukraine? Boggles the mind. Putin’s re-creating a Stalin terror-state.
My grandfather was found guilty of treason back in 1937. That was under Stalin. A person charged under Article 58 was considered an ‘enemy of the people’ and a counter-revolutionary. The law was in place until 1958 under Nikita Krushev. That was the same year my surviving relatives received letters of ‘rehabilitation’ from the Soviet government, entitling them to pensions.
|With Yuri, translator who helped me peruse a thick file
involving my grandfather in the secret police files/Zhytomyr
Modern Russia’s version of Article 58 is Article 275, updated in April 2023. It defines treason as "espionage, disclosure of state secrets, or any other assistance rendered to a foreign State, a foreign organization, or their representatives in hostile activities to the detriment of the external security of the Russian Federation, committed by a citizen of the Russian Federation."
It’s been 20 years since I accessed the secret police files in Zhytomyr, Ukraine. With the help of a translator, I read through my grandfather’s file along with the files of his brothers. On thin pink papers, I read of the money he received from family and a church group in Poland and East Prussia. Eight DM (Deutsch Marks) in July, 1934, 11 DM (Deutsch Marks) in November, 1934, another 8 DM in April, 1934. A pittance of money to help him survive as he struggled to get an exit visa out of the country. A pittance was all it took to charge him with treason. Translated, from his file:
|Executions were carried out in the basement of this building
- former NKVD headquarters in Zhytomyr
“Found guilty on August 28 and condemned to death. This should be carried out on September 19, 1937 at 3:13.”
And now, a young woman, accused of treason for sending a Ukrainian charity fifty-one dollars. Déjà vu, indeed!