MOSCOW – An exhibit of prison art by Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who spent 25 years in the United States and is at the center of speculation about a prisoner swap that could free WNBA star Brittney Griner, the state's parliament on Tuesday Russian House of Lords.
The Federation Council rally underscored Russia's strong interest in releasing Bout, who Russian officials said was a "businessman" wrongly arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison, but described by outsiders as a ruthless " merchant of death".
Russia has campaigned for his release since he was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and later convicted of terrorism charges, for shooting down helicopters and attempting to sell $20 million worth of weapons, including ground-based missiles. air, to American targets.
The Associated Press and other outlets report that Washington has offered to trade for Griner, who was sentenced in August to nine years in prison after leaking marijuana oil shells found in his suitcase at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in February.
The US State Department said Griner was "wrongfully detained". Two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA star Phoenix Mercury, Greener is one of America's most popular female athletes, and her case has brought significant pressure on the White House to secure her release.
US President Joe Biden said last week he hoped Russian President Vladimir Putin would be more willing to discuss releasing Griner after the US midterm elections.
He spoke hours after Griner's lawyers revealed he had been sent to one of Russia's notorious penal colonies to serve his sentence after a court rejected his appeal. Griner says he uses the vape cartridge for pain relief and that it accidentally ended up in his luggage as he was rushing to pack for a trip to Russia, where he plays for the Yekaterinburg team in the offseason.
There has been no real progress in the talks, which Russian officials say should remain beyond public scrutiny. Washington has also called for the release of former US Marine Paul Whelan, who served 16 years in prison on espionage charges.
At the art exhibition, which featured a tech-savvy portrait of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and an emotional portrait of a kitten, the head of the House of Lords' international relations committee, Grigory Karasin, promised that "Russian diplomats will of everything to bring I will bring it back as soon as possible". in their country of origin. It is not an easy task, but we will continue our efforts.
Bout's wife Alla told the show she had not spoken to her husband about the president's apology, but that all avenues of appeal against his sentence had been exhausted.
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