The American, one of the best basketball players in the world, has been convicted in Russia of drug possession and smuggling.
- Brittney Griner Conviction for drug possession and smuggling
Brittney Griner, one of the great stars of women’s basketball, has been sentenced in Russia to nine years in prison for a crime of drug possession and smuggling . The American was arrested on February 17 at the Sheremetyevo airport when the police found her in her luggage. two vape cartridges containing 0.252 and 0.45 grams of cannabis oil. It is a substance used by more and more athletes in your country to treat pain, but it is illegal in Russia.
In an official statement, Joe Biden He described the sentence as “unacceptable”. The US president reiterated that Brittney Griner is “illegally detained” and urged Russia to “release her immediately.” However, her Administration has long since prepared for this scenario. Russian justice favors the prosecution and, despite Griner’s collaboration, it was realized by fact that the sentence will be onerous. The sentence does not mark the end of the case, but the beginning of a new phase: negotiating a prisoner exchange. Sergi Lavrov, the foreign minister, said that Russia is “ready” to discuss the prisoner exchange, the day after the sentence is known.
The sentence does not mark the end of the case, but the beginning of a new phase. Russian justice favors the prosecution and, despite Griner’s collaboration,I take it for granted that the sentence will be onerous. For weeks, the United States has been negotiating a prisoner exchange but the public message of the Kremlin officials has been invariable: let the ‘formalities’ of the trial finish before sitting down to talk.
A few days ago, the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkenclaimed that her country had made “a substantial offer” to free her and Paul Whelan, an ex-marine convicted of espionage. The details of the offer were not disclosed, but the press noted the name of Victor Bout, an arms dealer known as ‘the merchant of death’. According to CNN, Russia countered by demanding a second prisoner, the Chechen Vadm Krsikov.
Brittner Griner has become one more piece in the immense puzzle of relationships between two giants.
Two parallel races
Griner was one of many WNBA stars to have two parallel careers. Many take advantage of the rest months to play in Europe, where salaries are higher. in 2015 Diana Taurasi, one of the greatest in history, gave up playing the season with the Phoenix Mercury because his European team, UMMC Yekaterinburg, paid him to rest. In Russia he was paid almost 15 times more.
Griner was his partner at both clubs and on the United States team. She has been twice Olympic and world champion. On one side of the puddle, I won the WNBA with the Mercurys. To the other, four Euroleagues with UMMC Yekaterinburg, all with Alba Torrens and the last three with the Spanish coach, Miguel Mendez. That is where she was headed when she was arrested at Sheremetyevo airport.
The American assured that it was a mistake when packing and presented the medical prescription of cannabis for her chronic pain. It hasn’t mattered, nor has the meager amount (0.702 grams total) or the support of UMMC Yekaterinburg, a Russian basketball giant. In recent days, he denounced that at the time of the arrest they did not give him access to a lawyer, they did not duly explain his rights to him, and they made him sign documents without knowing what they said.
For three weeks there was no certainty about the whereabouts of Brittney Griner, until in early March the Federal Customs Service issued images of the inspection at the airport. A few hours later, the state news agency TASS confirmed her identity. State television later published a photograph of the player holding a sheet of paper on which her name was supposed to be written.. It was not known where or when it had been taken.
An investigation by the ‘New York Times’ was necessary to conclude that Brittney Griner was being held in the IK-1 penal colony, some 70 kilometers from Moscow. The player had to wait three months to see someone other than her legal team in person and more than four for the trial to begin. A week after her arrest, two weeks before those first images of her arrest saw the light, Russia began the invasion of the Ukraine.
In the world of basketball there have been gestures of support for Brittney Griner during these months. This season, her initials (BG) and her bib number (42) are on the side of every WNBA court. In the third hearing of the trial, she showed between the bars a photo of this year’s All-Star, where all the players wore her name and her number on their jersey. In the last NBA Finals, the Celtics and the Warriors went out to warm up with jerseys that read ‘We are BG’.
In the United States, it has been criticized that, if Lebron James and not Brittney Griner, her government would not have allowed this. However, that would imply that she has some sort of power in a situation that is so far beyond her control.he. Griner is just one more piece on the huge chessboard of tensions between Russia and the United States.