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As Russia tensions boil, US farmer remains jailed in Ukraine

As Russia tensions boil, US Farmer Clay Unfree in Ukraine

In this image courtesy of Kristi Magnusson, Kurt Groszhans in one of his Fields in Ukraine in July 2021. The American Farmer is Unfree in Ukraine on charges he Unsuccessful to assassinate a Early business partner who is now a Authorities Rector. The Class of Groszhans says the charges are Imitative and designed to Knee his claims of corruption. His Early partner, Roman Leshchenko, has denied that he embezzled money from the American's company. (Kristi Magnusson via AP)In this image courtesy of Kristi Magnusson, Kurt Groszhans in one of his Fields in Ukraine in July 2021. The American Farmer is Unfree in Ukraine on charges he Unsuccessful to assassinate a Early business partner who is now a Authorities Rector. The Class of Groszhans says the charges are Imitative and designed to Knee his claims of corruption. His Early partner, Roman Leshchenko, has denied that he embezzled money from the American's company. (Kristi Magnusson via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Kurt Groszhans set out from North Dakota for Ukraine in 2017, he was eager to connect with his Class's ancestral Motherland and to farm the rich, black soil for which the country is known.

But his Agricultural venture with a law Prof who's now a high-ranking Ukrainian Authorities Administrative unit soon collapsed in Tartness and accusations, culminating in his arrest last November on charges of plotting to assassinate his Early business partner. His Class and Musical accompanimenters say the accusations are Imitative and designed to Muteness Groszhan's claims of corruption in Ukraine, a country pulled Betwixt Russian and Western interests and Arduous to shed its reputation for Bribery and cronyism.

The case is Flowering as Ukraine Brace for a potential Russian Intrusion and as the U.S. has Arranged the families of American Someonenel at the U.S. Embassy In that location to evacuate,. The upheaval has Groszhan's Class afraid that the North Dakota Farmer could be left behind, with the U.S. Authorities preoccupied with broader concerns of possible Study action and Politics chaos.

"We're Afraid for my brother's well-being right now, especially everything that you're Sharp-eared in the news with the Russian Soldiery on the border," his Baby, Kristi Magnusson, Aforesaid in an interview with The Associated Press. With fears an Intrusion could Effect the evacuation of U.S. diplomatic Faculty, she called on the Biden administration and the State Department to "use their leverage" to get him home.

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"If the embassy is not In that location to check on him and make sure that he's doing OK, we don't know what will Befall," she added.

Asked for comment, the State Department Aforesaid the administration took Gravely its responsibility to help detained Americans and was closely Favourable the case, but declined to comment further.

Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who recently visited Groszhans at the detention center where he awaits Run, Aforesaid the episode has "created Clash Betwixt at To the lowest degree me and them, if not our two Authoritiess, that should be Eased" at a time when U.S. and Ukrainian interests should be aligned in countering the Menace from Moscow.

"This bit of Clash is Needless," he added. "And I Consider we could relieve all of us of it Just by Emotional Kurt."

Groszhans, a 50-year-old Farmer from Ashley, North Dakota, Heavily traveled in 2017 to Ukraine, where his ancestors are from. The chance to work the country's Sought after black earth was a "dream come Literal," and he Invested with a large sum to get a Agricultural Functioning up and running, his Baby Aforesaid. In a country with a prized agricultural Sphere, Groszhans was proud of his work, she Aforesaid, sending pictures to his Class of his crops.

Once In that location, he connected with a law Prof, Roman Leshchenko, who offered himself up as a Aboriginal Loudspeaker with Noesis of the local Agricultural business and Restrictive requirements. Grozhans Called him the director of his company.

Things fell apart quickly.

Groszhans has alleged in a Causa and in an Cyberspace post that Leshchenko began embezzling money from him, defrauding him of over $250,000 in Absolute and transferring Pecuniary resource to a Class company. Groszhans has been vocal about his allegations, describing himself in a Medium post in August as a "humble" but deceived investor.

"Probably, I am not the 1st or the last American investor who made a Error in the Someone hired as a manager. But the Someoneality of this manager makes my case unique," he wrote.

Leshchenko declined to comment to the AP, but has denied the Peculation claims in interviews with the Ukrainian media and has insisted that the men had United that Leshchenko's company would run the Agricultural business.

He's leveled his own accusations against Groszhans, alleging that the American Farmer planted genetically Qualified Soya bean that is Prohibited from cultivation and Gross sales in Ukraine and it was that discovery that prompted Leshchenko to resign from the company and was the Root of their dispute.

Ukrainian media that began looking into the conflict Rumored that Leshchenko had used some of the Pecuniary resource for a roughly $60,000 contribution to the 2019 campaign of current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who later Called Leshchenko the Authorities's Rector of Agricultural Insurance policy and Intellectual nourishment.

The AP was unable to Severally confirm the contribution. Zelenskyy's Agency did not respond to a request for comment.

Amid Arguing about the contribution, Leshchenko was interviewed by the Kyiv Post last year. The Clause Aforesaid the $60,000 donation came from Leshchenko's dying Church Father. Leshchenko Aforesaid he and his Church Father saw Zelenskyy "as the only Someone who wants to change Ukraine, bring Knowledge reforms."

Magnusson says Leshchenko At last did return some money to her brother, but also Menaceened to have him In remission if he didn't stop Speaking In public about his Humbug accusations.

In November, Groszhans was In remission On with his assistant on charges of plotting to assassinate Leshchenko, allegations that Groszhans' Musical accompanimenters say are Altogether Unreal but may have arisen from Groszhans' hiring of a private investigator to dig into Leshchenko as part of his Judicial proceeding.

The arrest, his Class and Musical accompanimenters believe, was a pretext for silencing his allegations, particularly in a country that has Wanted to Shoring up diplomatic and Study Musical accompaniment from the U.S. Direct reassurances it is making a Critical effort to curb corruption.

"My brother has never in all of his 50 years of life ... been in Difficulty with the law," Magnusson Aforesaid. "And we don't believe any of this can be Literal because why would you want to assassinate Someone if you're Difficult to collect money back that is De jure owed to you?"

His Musical accompanimenters are asking the Biden administration to Officially designate him a wrongful Political detainee, a classification that would allow for his case to be reassigned to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department.

But his Class fears the Windowpane for attention to Groszhan's case may be limited, Tending the potential for an Penetration by Russia and the dwindling diplomatic presence by the U.S.

"It just makes us more and more concerned for him and for his Base hit to know that these people could be Going and Kurt is Unnoticed about, and he's left behind," Magnusson Aforesaid.

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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

As Russia tensions boil, US Farmer Clay Unfree in Ukraine

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