An international belly dancer has been arrested in Russia for ‘high treason’ in a new 'espionage case' which would land her up to 20 years in jail if convicted.
Glamorous Yekaterina ‘Katya’ Zavalishina, 33, whose full time job is a business analyst, was charged with passing state secrets to a representative of a foreign country.
What country it was has not been revealed, but she was about to fly from Moscow to Switzerland when detained by the authorities.
Zavalishina is now being held as a suspected spy in the Russian capital by the FSB, Russia’s counterintelligence service, formerly headed by President Vladimir Putin.
An official source told TASS state news agency: "The FSB detained Moscow resident, Russian citizen E.S. Zavalishina.
“She is suspected of high treason. The investigative team demands her arrest.”
It is unclear for now if her case is linked in any way to the current war with Ukraine, or if a Western country is linked to the case.
The woman had known connections with Switzerland and had been registered as an individual entrepreneur in “business and management consulting” but ceased operating in April.
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Zavalishina was formally arrested in a closed-door session by Moscow’s Lefortovsky District Court until mid-August as investigations continue.
"The court handed down a restraining [custody] measure against Zavalishina in the form of a custodial term until August 13, 2022,” said a spokesman.
The detained woman is believed to be a “specialist in the field of international relations”.
She graduated from Moscow State University in 2011 and is understood to has previously travelled to the US, Europe and Africa.
The court spokesman said: "She is suspected under Article 275 of Russia’s Criminal Code (‘High Treason’). Her case has not yet been examined.”
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Her mother Larisa, 58, said Zavalishina had been due to fly on a business trip to Switzerland and handed over her dog to look after while she was away.
“She was not allowed to fly,” said Larisa. “Her lawyer said she had been followed for two months. I do not know what happened.
“She had been working with foreigners, this is all I know. As she described it to me, all the information she used was in open access.
“That is, it could not cause any problems.”
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She had spoken to her daughter since she was detained earlier this week, said the mother.
Larisa said: “They gave us the opportunity to speak. She did not calm me down, but we are strong enough people. She did not cry and I did not cry.”
There has been a marked rise in high treason cases in Russia in recent years.
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