Russia’s top domestic security agency said Monday that a detained former employee of the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok is accused of collecting information about Russia’s action in Ukraine and related issues for U.S. diplomats.
Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, the country’s main domestic security agency, said Robert Shonov is suspected of “gathering information about the special military operation, mobilization processes in Russian regions, problems and the assessment of their influence on protest activities of the population in the runup to the 2024 presidential election.”
The FSB, the top KGB successor, also said it served summonses to question two U.S. diplomats who allegedly instructed Shonov to collect the information.
Shonov’s arrest was first reported in May, but Russian authorities provided no details at the time. The U.S. State Department, which previously condemned the arrest, issued a statement Monday saying the allegations against Shonov “are wholly without merit.”
Shonov was charged under a new article of Russian law that criminalizes “cooperation on a confidential basis with a foreign state, international or foreign organization to assist their activities clearly aimed against Russia’s security.” Kremlin critics have said the formulation is so broad it can be used to punish any Russian who had foreign connections. It carries a prison sentence of up to eight years.