In the wake of the nine-year prison sentence for American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner, Russia said on Friday, August 5, that it was ” ready “ to discuss a prisoner exchange with the United States. The player, sentenced by a Russian court in a controversial case of “drug trade”Despite herself, she found herself mired in the geopolitical crisis between Washington and Moscow, in the midst of the conflict in Ukraine.
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, described on Thursday“unacceptable” the condemnation of the 31-year-old double Olympic champion, the United States accusing Moscow of instrumentalizing its case to obtain concessions from Washington. The US administration has claimed for several days that it has submitted to the Kremlin a proposal to obtain the release of M.me Griner, but Russian diplomacy reiterated that a swap could only be discussed once the verdict is in.
a first conversation
“We are ready to discuss this issue, but only within the framework of the channel [diplomatique] that was agreed upon by Presidents Putin and Biden”said the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, during a trip to Cambodia. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, specified that this specific communication channel to negotiate prisoner exchanges had been the subject of an agreement between MM. Biden and Putin during talks in Geneva last year.
Unsuccessfully, the White House “urged” on Thursday Russia to accept its “serious offer” of exchanges to repatriate Mme Grind. The head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, who had already held talks with Mr. Lavrov last week about an exchange, stated on Friday that the United States ” continue “ discuss it with Russia. He also considered that the conviction of Mme Illustrated Griner “the Russian government’s use of unlawful detentions to advance its interests by using individuals as political pawns”.
Arrested with cannabis-based vaping liquid.
Brittney Griner, considered one of the best basketball players in the world, was sentenced Thursday to nine years in prison for drug trafficking by a court in Khimki, near Moscow. This harsh prison sentence raised a wave of indignation, especially in the world of sports. She was arrested in February at a Moscow airport with cannabis-based vaping liquid. She admitted to having been in possession of this substance, however, she claimed to have inadvertently brought it to Russia and used it legally in the United States as a pain reliever.
She had come to Russia to play during the American offseason, a common practice for WNBA basketball players, who often make more money abroad than in the United States. The athlete is one of several US citizens currently detained in Russia and whose release Washington wants.
Washington said last week that it had made an offer “important” Y “I laughed” to get the return of Mme Griner and Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia for “to spy”.
According to several US media, it would be about exchanging a famous Russian arms dealer arrested in the United States, Viktor Bout, for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. Mr. Bout, arrested in Thailand in 2008 and serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States, is nicknamed the “merchant of death.” His extraordinary journey was one of the inspirations for the film. Warlord, in which Nicolas Cage plays a cynical arms dealer.
The arms dealer’s wife, Alla Bout, also said Thursday that she hoped for a trade, expressing her ” compassion “ those close to Brittney Griner. “May God see to it that our countries reach an agreement”said mme Bout to the RIA Novosti news agency.
Neither Russia nor the United States have confirmed this, and Moscow insists on its desire to keep the negotiations confidential, annoyed by the statements of US officials. “If Americans still decide to engage in public diplomacy and make strong statements (…) It’s your business, and even your problem.”Mr. Lavrov said on Friday, estimating that Washington “do not arrive” to work “calmly and professionally” on many topics.
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