Kremlin official says releasing Britney Greiner is not a priority for Russia

Yuri Ushakov, Assistant to the Russian President Russian President Vladimir PutinOn Sunday, he said that the release of NBA basketball player Britney Grenier, who is being held in a Russian prison for bringing a small amount of cannabis oil into the country, is not a priority for Russia.

president Joe Biden It was Trying to bring the Griner home He ordered his administration “to communicate with the Russian government through all available channels and to make every possible effort to achieve them.” [Griner and Paul Whelan] Motherland. Whelan is a United States Marine Serves 16 years In a Russian prison for espionage.

However, Ushakov said Biden is only announcing those attempts in the wake of the upcoming midterm elections in November.

“In this tense situation, I think he’s thinking first and foremost about the upcoming midterm elections, so he keeps stressing the need to bring back the basketball player who has been arrested for drug trafficking. However, that’s not the main topic we’re in.” Russian news TASS about Ushakov as saying in an interview with the Russian newspaper “Russia 1”.

The release of Britney Greiner is not a priority for Russia
Above, WNBA basketball player Britney Grenier, who was arrested at an airport in Moscow and later charged with illegal cannabis possession, awaits verdict during an August 4 hearing. Yuri Ushakov, an assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in an interview. The release of Griner is not a priority for Russia.
Photo by EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA / POOL / AFP

The White House said earlier this month that there There is no progress in the negotiations With Russian officials to release Grenier, who was arrested in February at Moscow airport.

In August, a Russian court sentenced the player to nine years in prison and fined about $16,000 after being found guilty of drug trafficking with criminal intent. She has been trying to appeal the prison sentence ever since.

White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre He said during a press conference this month that the 31-year-old basketball player had been “unjustly arrested by the Russian authorities”.

The press secretary also said at the time that Russia should consider this offer Biden administration announced in July to secure Griner’s release. Biden administration I suggest the release of Victor Bouta Russian arms dealer also known as “The Merchant of Death”, opposite Whelan and Greiner.

Meanwhile, Biden He said on Tuesday He does not intend to speak with Putin during the upcoming G-20 summit, unless it comes to the release of Greiner.

“Look, I have no intention of meeting him,” Biden said. “But, for example, if he comes to me at the G-20 and says, ‘I want to talk about the release of Grenier, I’ll meet him.'”

Grenier prison terms

The Phoenix Mercury star is currently serving her sentence in a Russian penal colonyIt is known to include barracks surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Penal colonies have long been in Russia, but they have evolved from the often deadly forced labor camps of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to the model of the day in which prisoners do less drastic work like sewing military uniforms rather than mining.

However, the current prison conditions have affected the basketball player’s well-being, according to one of her Russian lawyers, New York times reported on Wednesday.

Griner resides in a small cell with two other people who speak English and are also facing drug charges. She also used to sleep on a bed too small for her 6-foot-9 figure, until Russian journalist Ekaterina Kalugina, who was said to have visited her in prison, told Russia’s Prison Oversight Committee in April that she needed a bigger bed.

Kalogina said times That a WNBA player, along with other women in prison, is only allowed to shower twice a week. The reporter learned that Greiner also suffers from frequent pains and frequent headaches.

Meanwhile, attorney Alexander Boikov said that the temperature inside the penal colony where Grenier is locked up changes dramatically based on the weather. The attorney added that Greiner is only allowed out for one hour each day, which she uses to walk laps around a “small yard.”

NEWSWEEK I contacted the White House for comment.

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