19:20 GMT +323 March 2019
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    US Embassy in Moscow

    US Embassy Confirms Detention of 2 US Citizens in Russia

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The US Embassy in Russia confirmed to RIA Novosti on Thursday that two US citizens had been detained in the southern Russian port city of Novorossiysk.

    "We can confirm two US citizens were detained in Novorossiysk. We have no higher priority than the protection of US citizens abroad. Due to privacy considerations, we do not have any additional information at this time," the embassy's spokeswoman, Andrea Kalan, said.

    READ MORE: Russia Formally Notifies US of Detention of American Citizen — State Dept.

    According to media reports citing a court in Novorossiysk, the US citizens had violated the Russian legislation by declaring a false aim of their visit. While they said they had come to Russia for the sake of religious activities, they were in fact giving English language lessons to locals. The detained persons, who now face deportation, have refuted the accusations.

    Both the Russian Foreign Ministry and the US Department of State have already confirmed the information.

    When asked to comment on related reports, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Wednesday he had no information on the issue.

    Media reports emerged on Wednesday that two US volunteers of the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been detained on March 1, during a church meeting in Novorossiysk. A local court subsequently ruled that they were guilty of violating border entry regulations.

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