Former Dissident Claims Putin is Exploiting Imprisoned Ballerina as a Bargaining Chip with the West

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 14: Israeli politician Natan Sharansky speaks during 'March For Israel' at the National Mall on November 14, 2023 in Washington, DC.

According to a Soviet dissident who exchanged prison letters with Alexei Navalny in the year before he died, Putin is using the Russian-American ballerina detained in Moscow as a ‘cheap bargaining chip’ with the West. 

Natan Sharansky, 76, a well-known human rights activist who endured nearly a decade in the same gulag as Navalny 40 years ago, discussed the Kremlin’s recent action and its implications for relations with America. 

An LA-based dancer named Ksenia Karelina, aged 32, was arrested in Moscow on accusations of treason for reportedly sending $51.80 to a Ukrainian charity. She is looking at a potential 20-year prison sentence.

Sharansky is well aware of the challenges she is expected to encounter in the country’s prison system, and mentioned that her detention was a clear indication of increasing tensions between Russia and the US. 

“Putin’s regime is very hostile to any show of support for Ukraine,” he said in an interview with on Thursday. Furthermore, it is an inexpensive method of acquiring the currency needed for negotiations with Western countries.

Sharansky, who was born in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, was imprisoned in the former Soviet Union in 1977 for advocating for the rights of Jews to move to Israel. 

He was convicted of a false accusation of spying for the Americans, and endured nine years of torture and solitary confinement in the Siberian prison where Navalny passed away on February 16, 2024. 

Sharansky was the initial political detainee to be freed by former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986, as part of a prisoner exchange. This came after an international effort for his release spearheaded by his wife, Avital.

The author penned a book titled Fear No Evil, which Navalny, aged 47, read in prison and mentioned it brought him ‘hope’ for Russia’s future. Sharansky continued his career in politics for several decades, eventually becoming Israel’s deputy prime minister in 2001. 

Ballerina Detention: Politician Urges Accountability, Seeks Consequences

TRURO, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 14: A dancer from the Mergaliyev Classical Ballet company relaxes on stage after performing in Swan Lake at the Hall for Cornwall on February 14, 2024 in Truro, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom.


The politician emphasized the importance of holding Putin accountable for Karelina’s detention in order to secure her release. “To clarify, there are no laws in Russia,” he informed

Regardless of the allegations against the individual in custody, whether it involves an American journalist facing charges of espionage or an American citizen accused of donating money to Ukraine, the specifics are irrelevant…

It is crucial for America to make it clear that any actions taken will come with serious consequences.

Sharansky interacted with Putin multiple times while serving in the Israeli cabinet. It was evident from the beginning of the Russian president’s rule that he sought nothing short of complete acknowledgment as a superpower from the West.

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