According to the US Department of State, Russia is currently engaged in ‘intimidating’ (former) employees of the American consulate. The Americans are referring to the questioning of Robert Shonov, a former employee of the diplomatic outpost. The allegations against him, according to the US, are ‘completely unfounded’.
Russian authorities released a video on Monday showing Shonov being interrogated. According to Moscow, the Russian, who worked at the consulate in Vladivostok for over 25 years, acted as an informant, passing intelligence to the United States. The United States expressed outrage following his arrest in May.
The Russian secret service FSB accuses Shonov of informing employees at the US embassy in Moscow about how the Russian conscription campaign.
On Monday, rare footage of Paul Whelan also appeared in Russian state media. Whelan, a former marine who has been held in Russia since 2018 and was convicted of espionage, was seen in black prison clothing among other inmates. Washington states that it is doing everything possible to bring him home, but attempts to do so have been unsuccessful.
“We strongly oppose the efforts of the Russian security services – supported by Russian state media – to intimidate and harass our employees,” summarizes a spokesperson for the US Department of State regarding the situation.
In December 2022, Washington successfully secured the release of American basketball player Brittney Griner from a Russian prison. She was exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Brittney Griner offence was drug possession.