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The boyfriend of the 32-year-old U.S.-Russian ballerina who is being held in a jail outside of Moscow over allegations of donating $51 to Ukraine’s war effort tells Fox News that it “makes me hopeful that America’s fighting for her.” 

Chris Van Heerden says he bought California resident Ksenia Karelina a plane ticket to go home to Russia earlier this year as a birthday gift “because she wanted to see her family.” However, reports emerged Tuesday that Karelina was arrested by Russian authorities on charges of treason for allegedly donating funds to a Ukrainian organization that then passed them on to Kyiv’s armed forces. 

“I feel like the more I speak to media now and the story blows up, the more attention will be brought to it and the more attention brought to this will urge the U.S. State Department or whatever needs to be urged to help get Ksenia back,” Van Heerden said in an interview with Fox News. “She’s an American citizen, and like I said, she’s very proud to be Russian, but she’s also very proud to be American.” 

Van Heerden, who described his girlfriend as “full of light,” “so kind” and “joyful,” also said it “makes me hopeful that America’s fighting for her.” 


Chris Van Heerden speaks in interview

Chris Van Heerden tells Fox News he thinks Russian authorities are in possession of his girlfriend’s cell phone. (Fox News)

He added that he received a letter from her on Wednesday indicating she is in “pretrial confinement” with two other women and saying that she feels “safe.” 

Van Heerden revealed that Karelina was initially detained by Russian authorities when she entered the country in early January before being released.  

“She was with her family. She was home. We spoke every day” on her mother’s phone, he described. “And as the days went on, she really seemed happy. And you could clearly tell she didn’t understand the extent of what’s waiting. And I didn’t, because there was not really any communication about that. So I didn’t understand it. 

“And then, two days from her getting back to us, she was supposed to get on a flight. And I was like… Watch out. Like, are you getting on a plane in two days? She said yes. I’m getting on a plane,” he continued. “Everything seems to be good. And she seemed happy. Excited to come back to America. She said maybe I’ll see you soon, make sure to be at the airport and gave me the time to be at the airport and that’s it. That was it.” 


Ksenia Karelina

Ksenia Karelina, pictured here in custody, is reported to be a resident of Los Angeles. (Facebook/RIA Novosti)

Van Heerden tells Fox News, “I do believe they held on to her phone.” 

“To my knowledge, I’m like, maybe they found something in a phone. I don’t know, and I read the media and I see, okay, they found out she made a donation and that’s I’m like, is that it? Like, I don’t know,” he also said. 

Van Heerden described feeling “powerless” as Karelina remains in custody.

“I don’t want anybody to forget about her,” he said. “And I want people to get to know the girl I fell in love with. You cannot forget about her.” 

Chris Van Heerden and Ksenia Karelina together

Chris Van Heerden says Ksenia Karelina is proud to be American and Russian. (Fox News)


Eleonora Srebroski, Karelina’s former mother-in-law, told Fox11 in an interview, “I know that we need to create some noise, we need to get some attention to this cause, and we need to get her out of the jail.” 


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