SA boxing champion pleads for his girlfriend in Russia


Chris van Heerden, former welterweight boxing champion, is distraught over his girlfriend, Ksenia Karelina, being detained in Russia.

Karelina is accused of donating $51.80 to a Ukrainian charity in the US.

She was arrested in Russia on 27 January 2024 by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on charges of treason.

“This terribly difficult situation has been going on for weeks now and I have not been able to discuss it publicly at this time,” Van Heerden said in a post on social media this week. “However, the Russian government has now disclosed the information.”

He intends to stand strong and will do everything in his power to return Karelina to America. “It’s a constant battle, but I won’t give up.”

Van Heerden and Karelina currently live in California in the USA. Karelina has American and Russian citizenship and Van Heerden will soon receive American citizenship.

“I ask that you will pray with me, because her strength and courage are being tested to the limit. Let’s pray together that she will remain intact through this hardship.”

Russia also accuses Karelina of raising money for Ukraine’s military and “attending public events in the US in support of the Kiev regime”, the Daily Mail report.

If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison in Russia.

Karelina currently works at Ciel Spa in Beverly Hills. Her co-workers learned of her arrest when she failed to show up for her shift in mid-January.

She originally obtained a work visa to work as a ballerina in the USA. She has been working at the spa for the past eight years.

Van Heerden now works daily to make sure she can return home safely. A petition has also since been launched to demand her release.

He and Karelina traveled to Istanbul to celebrate the new year in 2024. After their trip, Van Heerden returned to Los Angeles while Karelina went to visit her family in a remote area of ​​Russia near Siberia.

Van Heerden gave her her plane ticket. Before the flight, he was already worried that it might be dangerous for her to return to Russia because of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

“We talked about it. I said I didn’t think it was a good idea. There is a war and Russia and America are not good friends at the moment and you are an American. But she convinced me,” said Van Heerden in an interview with KTLA said.

He says he tries to think positively about the matter. “I trust America. I put my faith in God. I try to think positively. I pray every night.”