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The anti-American atmosphere in Russia is out of the ordinary and now Americans who have had the misfortune of ending up in Russian captivity are being used as pawns in the cruel Kremlin game. Basketball star Brittney Griner, detained in Russia for drug trafficking, along with two American veterans captured by Russian troops in Ukraine last week – Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh – are profiled by state media controlled by the Kremlin as bargaining chips in the Russian crusade. against the West.
As Griner’s imprisonment was extended, the US State Department reclassified her status as “wrongfully detained,” meaning her case was placed under the supervision of the President’s special envoy for state affairs. hostages. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov bristled at the designation, telling NBC News, “She broke Russian law, and now she is being prosecuted. It’s not about being a hostage.
Despite the Kremlin’s denials, the Russian media machine has changed its tune when it comes to Griner. Tuesday, host of a state-funded television show 60 minutes Olga Skabeeva said: “Right now we also have an American basketball player caught on drugs, so we have some sort of swap fund.” Last May, without naming his source in the Moscow Region Public Control Commission, CASS reported that negotiations to exchange Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout are actively progressing.
The Kremlin has long been determined to free some Russians held by the United States by arresting Americans who could then be exchanged. In July 2018, Russian lawmaker Leonid Kalashnikov commented about the arrest of convicted Russian spy Maria Butina 60 minutes, suggesting, “Let’s arrest an American here and that’s it… They’ve arrested Boutina, let’s immediately arrest an Amerikashka here.” The same idea has been repeatedly floated on various state media television programs.
On Tuesday’s broadcast of 60 minutes, State Duma member Aleksey Zhuravlyov intentionally mispronounced the surnames of Drueke and Huynh in a way that sounded like obscene expressions. Describing American prisoners of war captured in Ukraine as “stupid Americans,” Zhuravlyov said he didn’t care about their fate: “They should either be liquidated or exchanged for [Viktor] Fight. We need to get our citizens out of America. Thank God we have such opportunities.
American captives surface in Russian propaganda videos
In 2019, after Butina was released from US custody, state TV host Evgeny Popov told The Daily Beast that Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko would soon follow suit and be returned to Russia. Yaroshenko was sentenced to 20 years for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. In April 2022, he was traded in a prisoner swap for former US Marine Trevor Reed, who was jailed in Russia for assaulting police.
In addition to being mentioned as leverage to extract wanted Russian prisoners from the United States, seven-time WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner has received very limited publicity in Russian state media. She personifies the trifecta of prejudice often exhibited by Kremlin state television spokespersons, including racism, homophobia and pronounced anti-American leanings. For example, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is regularly described by state television propagandists as a “dark-skinned lesbian”, along with state television host Evgeny Popov. to predict that in a few months she would be replaced by a “straight white male”. Vladimir Solovyov, the host of a popular public television program The evening with Vladimir Solovyovwith his guests, regularly refers to Jean-Pierre as “Chunga-Changa”, a diminutive and racist reference to the depiction of black islanders in Soviet cartoons.
During Wednesday’s interview with Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Solovyov, dressed in a red sweatshirt emblazoned with the Soviet hammer and sickle, complained: “Western hysteria doesn’t stop for a moment. The world has never seen such a crazy level of Russophobia. Zakharova agreed and added, “Evil is not omnipotent. They will receive a stern response in return. In the past, we were held back by diplomatic correctness, but now we are responding in a way that benefits us, above all… First, we will think of our own citizens… [Westerners] are sick, they are infected with xenophobia, racism and nationalism.
Tensions boiled over Wednesday morning on 60 minutesduring a discussion of a diplomatic employee of the US Naval Attaché in Moscow who would have took a picture of Russia’s “Z” symbol representing the invasion of Ukraine, with a gesture using the outstretched middle finger. Lawmaker Zhuravlyov fumed, “Let that female dog out one more time. We will find it. Get out of the embassy, hunt. I will explain to you personally, bastard, what kind of country you are in and how you are supposed to treat these symbols. Zhuravlyov continued: “This is a direct threat from me, a direct threat … I could spit on his [diplomatic] immunity.”
Pinning their hopes on Trump and U.S. Republicans, Russian lawmakers and top pundits have repeatedly stressed their desire to see the GOP oust the midterm Democrats and Biden in the next presidential election. Appearing on Wednesday’s show of The evening with Vladimir Solovyovattendees floated an idea of how American captives might play a role in defeating the Democrats in the midterm elections.
Host Vladimir Solovyov thought aloud: “How is he [the US and the UK] react if the Donetsk [People’s] The Republic sentences all foreign mercenaries, American and British, to death and executes them? Political scientist Dmitry Evstafiev intervened: “And if it was done a day before the Congress elections? I think that would be very politically correct… But in reality, it’s not just about shooting Americans. It is not a question of letting the Americans escape the great European war, but of dragging them into it. Every day, every American should know that the new 15 cents are being added to the price of gas because Biden entered the war. We must intensify our efforts to draw the Americans into it…America and Britain must be incinerated in this conflict.
Evstafiev grimly pointed out: “The Americans and the British started this fire and they have to burn in it.
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