U.S. citizen facing drug charges in Russia appears in court

Robert Woodland Romanov is escorted into court
Robert Woodland Romanov, a U.S. citizen, is escorted into court to face drug-related charges in Moscow on Thursday.
(Alexander Zemlianichenko / Associated Press)

A U.S. citizen arrested on drug charges in Moscow amid soaring Russia-U.S. tensions appeared in court on Thursday and had his case adjourned until mid-May.

Robert Woodland is facing charges of trafficking large amounts of illegal drugs as part of an organized group — a criminal offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He was detained in January, and the trial began in the Ostankino District Court in late March.

“Our position is that there is, I may say, no evidence of drug sales in the materials on the case,” his lawyer Stanislav Kshevitskii told reporters.


The court set his next hearing for May 14.

In January, the U.S. State Department said it was aware of reports of the recent detention of an American citizen in Russia and noted that it “has no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,” but refrained from further comment, citing privacy considerations. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a similar statement at the time.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich will remain jailed on espionage charges until at least late June.

April 23, 2024

Russian media noted that the name of the accused matches that of a U.S. citizen interviewed by the popular daily Komsomolskaya Pravda in 2020.

In the interview, the man said that he was born in Russia’s Perm region in the Ural Mountains in 1991 and was adopted by an American couple when he was 2. He said that he traveled to Russia to find his Russian mother and eventually met her on a television show in Moscow.

The man told Komsomolskaya Pravda that he liked living in Russia and decided to move there. The newspaper reported that he settled in the town of Dolgoprudny just outside Moscow and was working as an English teacher at a local school.

Arrests of Americans in Russia have become increasingly common as relations between Moscow and Washington sink to Cold War-level lows. Washington accuses Moscow of targeting its citizens and using them as political bargaining chips, but Russian officials insist they all broke the law.

Some have been exchanged for Russians held in the U.S., while for others, the prospects of being released in a swap are less clear.