US Citizen Arrested In Russia On Drug Charges

( – An American citizen has been arrested in Russia on drug charges. Police in Moscow detained Robert Woodland Romanov, and the Ostankino District Court decided on January 6 to keep him in custody for two months while police conduct investigations into his alleged participation in illegal drug trafficking.

A local Moscow newspaper interviewed Romanov in 2020, when he explained that he was born in Russia but adopted by American citizens in 1991 and taken to live in the US. He returned to Moscow to find his biological mother, whom he eventually met on a live reality TV show. A Facebook account in the name of Robert Woodland claims he worked as an English teacher and lived just outside the capital city.

The US State Department has subsequently cautioned Americans to leave Russia and warned of wrongful detention and harassment of US citizens by law enforcement agencies there.

Romanov, however, decided he would remain in Moscow, saying, “I was drawn to Russia with a tremendous force. And here I am. I have decided to stay in my motherland forever.” He added that he opposes the war in Ukraine, but if “my letter to arms comes, I will not turn away.”

The 32-year-old was arrested as the US negotiated with Russian authorities to release jailed Americans Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich. The State Department reports that it has made several offers to obtain their release, but none were accepted by Russian authorities.

Wall Street Journal reporter Gershkovich was jailed last March in Yekaterinburg on espionage charges and has languished in jail since then. The US says the reporter is unlawfully detained. Similarly, Mr. Whelan, from Michigan, was imprisoned for espionage in 2018 for 16 years.

Experts suggest Russia will use jailed Americans as bargaining chips amid growing tensions between the two countries as the war in Ukraine rages on. The US has donated billions to Ukraine’s war against Russia since its invasion in February 2022.

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