The United States strongly condemns the reported arrest of Robert Shonov, a former employee of U.S. Mission Russia. The allegations against Mr. Shonov are wholly without merit. Mr. Shonov is a Russian national who was employed by the U.S. Consulate General in Vladivostok for more than 25 years. Following the Russian government’s April 2021 order forcing termination of all local staff employed at the U.S. Mission to Russia, Mr. Shonov was employed by a company contracted to provide services to U.S. Embassy in Moscow in strict compliance with Russia’s laws and regulations.
Like any diplomatic mission in the world – including Russia’s Mission to the United States – the U.S. Embassy contracts for local services to operate its diplomatic mission. Mr. Shonov’s only role at the time of his arrest was to compile media summaries of press items from publicly available Russian media sources. His being targeted under the “confidential cooperation” statute highlights the Russian Federation’s blatant use of increasingly repressive laws against its own citizens.