Russia ready to discuss prisoner swap with US, Lavrov says after Griner sentencing

“As for convicted persons in Russia and the United States … there is a specified channel which has been agreed by [Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden]and no matter what anyone says publicly, this chain will remain in effect,” Lavrov was quoted as saying at a press conference in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh on Friday.

“We are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the chain that was agreed by the presidents,” Lavrov added.

Her comments come a day after US women’s basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted of willful drug trafficking in Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison, in a case that raised fears she could be used as a a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

During the trial, Griner pleaded guilty to carrying less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage as she walked through a Moscow airport on February 17. She testified in court that she was aware of Russia’s strict drug laws and had no intention of bringing cannabis. in the country, saying she was in a hurry and was “preparing for stress”.

Before the verdict, Griner apologized to the court and asked for leniency in an emotional speech.

“I never wanted to hurt anyone, I never wanted to endanger the Russian people, I never wanted to break the laws here,” Griner said.

“I made an honest mistake and I hope in your decision it doesn’t end my life here. I know everyone keeps talking about political pawn and politics but I hope it’s away from this courtroom.”


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