Brittney Griner's Release From Jail Is Not Priority for Russia, Vladimir Putin Aide Says

Vladimir Putin's adviser describes Joe Biden's vow to bring home the US basketball star as nothing more than an attempt to boost support ahead of midterm elections.

AceShowbiz - Brittney Griner's release is not a priority for Russia, according to an adviser to Vladimir Putin. The 31-year-old basketball star - who normally lives in Houston, Texas with wife Cherelle Griner - was sentenced to nine years behind bars in August after she was apprehended on suspicion of drug smuggling in Russia just days before the country launched the ongoing invasion on Ukraine in February.

Yury Ushakov - one of the Russian leader's top advisors and the country's ambassador to America from 1998 to 2008 - responded to US President Joe Biden's vow to ensure the sportswoman's freedom, claiming it was nothing more than a bid to bolster support ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.

Ushakov said on state-run TV show "Moscow.Kremlin.Putin", "In this tense situation, I think that he is thinking first and foremost about the upcoming midterm elections so he keeps emphasising the need to bring back home the basketball player who was detained for drug smuggling. However, it's not the main issue that we are concerned about."

Cherelle admitted last week she is worried her wife will never come home from Russia. She said, "In no world would I have ever thought our president and a foreign nation president would be sitting down having to discuss the freedom of my wife. It feels to me as if she is a hostage. … It terrifies me. My brain can't even fathom it. I feel like everyday I hear something new, and it's terrifying."

And Brittney's lawyer, Alexandr D. Boykov, recently admitted the WNBA star was "struggling" in prison as she was "not absolutely convinced" she would be freed. He said, "She has not been in as good condition as I could sometimes find her in."

"She is not yet absolutely convinced that America will be able to take her home. She is very worried about what the price of that will be, and she is afraid that she will have to serve the whole sentence here in Russia."

Brittney - who is also said to have been fined the equivalent of $16,600 for the offence - was found to have taken less than one gram of cannabis oil into the country and insisted her actions were "inadvertent" but had decided to plead guilty.

She said, "That's why I pled guilty to my charges. I understand everything that's been said against me, the charges that are against me and that is why I pled guilty but I had no intents to break any Russian laws."

Her appeal bid is due to begin next week.

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