US strongly condemns reported arrest of former Russia mission employee

The US State Department said on Tuesday it "strongly condemns" the reported arrest of Robert Shonov, a former employee of the United States' mission in Russia, calling allegations he illegally collaborated with foreigners "wholly without merit."

Russian state news agency TASS reported on Monday that Shonov had been detained in the far eastern city of Vladivostok but was being held in Moscow's Lefortovo prison, usually reserved for serious crimes including espionage.

Shonov, a Russian national, was employed by the US Consulate General in Vladivostok for more than 25 years until Russia in 2021 ordered the termination of the US mission's local staff, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement on Tuesday.

At the time of his arrest Shonov was employed by a company contracted to provide services to the US embassy in Moscow and his role was to compile summaries of Russian media reports, Miller said, adding that this arrangement complied with Russia's laws and regulations.

Subscribe for our daily newsletter
Subscribe for our daily newsletter

By subscribing I accept the terms of use and privacy policy