September 29, 2022

Russia stated Friday it was prepared to debate a prisoner swap with Washington on the presidential degree, a day after the drug conviction of US basketball star Brittney Griner.

Regardless of tensions hovering between Russia and the US because the launch of Moscow’s army intervention in Ukraine, the previous Chilly Conflict rivals seemed to be edging nearer to a brand new prisoner alternate.

The White Home has urged Russia to simply accept its supply of a deal for the discharge of Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was sentenced to 16 years in jail on espionage prices.

Russia’s International Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday stated Russia was prepared to debate the matter.

“We’re prepared to debate this topic, however solely throughout the framework of the (communication) channel established by presidents Putin and Biden,” Lavrov informed a press convention on a go to to Cambodia.

“There’s a particular channel established by the presidents and regardless of sure public declarations, it’s nonetheless useful,” he added.

WNBA participant Griner was on Thursday sentenced to 9 years in a Russian penal colony and ordered to pay a nice of 1 million rubles ($16,590) for possessing and smuggling narcotics.

The 2-time Olympic basketball gold medallist and Girls’s NBA champion was detained at a Moscow airport in February after she was discovered carrying vape cartridges with hashish oil in her baggage.

The Phoenix Mercury participant was coming to Russia to play membership basketball with UMMC Ekaterinburg in the course of the US low season — a standard path for American stars looking for extra revenue.

Griner pleaded responsible to the costs, however stated she didn’t intend to interrupt the regulation or use the banned substance in Russia.

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Griner was sentenced to 9 years in a Russian jail on drug prices
POOL through AFP / EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA

“I need the court docket to know it was an sincere mistake that I made whereas speeding, below stress, making an attempt to get well from post-Covid and simply making an attempt to get again to my crew,” Griner stated in her last assertion earlier than the decision.

Griner had testified that she had permission from a US physician to make use of medicinal hashish to alleviate ache from her many accidents, and had by no means failed a drug check.

Using medical marijuana is just not allowed in Russia.

Griner’s authorized crew stated they plan to attraction the “unreasonable” verdict.

US President Joe Biden known as Griner’s conviction “unacceptable” and stated Washington would “work tirelessly” to safe her launch.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated final week that Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to Moscow to free Griner and Whelan.

A prisoner swap was mentioned throughout a name between Blinken and Lavrov final Friday.

The best-profile Russian prisoner in the USA is Victor Bout, a 55-year-old arms trafficker, dubbed the “Service provider of Dying”, who’s serving 25 years in jail.

There isn’t any official affirmation that Washington has supplied to alternate him.

Bout’s spouse Alla on Friday expressed her sympathies to Griner’s household, saying she hoped her husband and the US athlete will have the ability to return house.

“Sympathy has no citizenship and nationality, it’s a common human emotion,” she informed Russian information company RIA Novosti, expressing hope that Russia and the US would “come to an settlement”.

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Russia and the USA have already performed one prisoner swap because the begin of Moscow’s Ukraine offensive.

In April, Washington exchanged former US Marine Trevor Reed for convicted drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko.

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