US Citizen Detained on Drug Accusations in Russia

US Citizen Arrested on Drug Charges in Russia

( – Getting caught with drugs in Russia, whether as a citizen or a tourist, is a serious crime that can result in significant jail time. Brittney Griner found that out the hard way in February 2022 when authorities detained her at a Moscow airport, setting off a firestorm of negotiations to bring her home. Now, Russian authorities say they have detained another US citizen on similar charges.

On Tuesday, January 9, the Moscow court press service reported that authorities had detained 32-year-old Robert Woodland on drug charges four days prior. Specifically, prosecutors charged him with the “illegal acquisition, storage, transportation, manufacture, [and] processing of narcotic drugs,” and authorities have jailed him until March 5 at the earliest.

Woodland’s story is unique. He was born in Russia, but an American couple adopted him. He grew up in the United States and only returned to live in his home country in 2020. He maintains he is “not an American at all, but a Russian,” as reported by a Russian newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda. He works in Russia as an English teacher and lives outside of Moscow, according to CBS News.

The US State Department has not commented on Woodland’s detention. However, it has engaged in intense negotiations trying to release two other Americans, whom it says Russia wrongfully detained, a political designation indicating a foreign government is holding a US citizen to influence policy or extracting economic or political concessions from the US government.

Those two Americans are Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich, detained last March, and Paul Whelan, a US Marine Forces veteran held since 2018. Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged in a news conference that the two countries are trying to negotiate the release of Whelan and Gershkovich, saying, “It’s not easy.” Putin also denied that Russia had rejected a deal with the US to free the WSJ reporter.

As for Woodland, if the courts convict him of the charges against him, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

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