Brittney Griner’s release is not a priority for the Kremlin, says Putin adviser

(The Hill) – A Russian official said Sunday that the imprisonment of WNBA star Brittney Griner was not a priority for the Kremlin, despite President Biden’s repeated pushes for her release.

“In this tense situation, I think his (Biden) first thought is the upcoming midterm elections,” Yury Ushakov, a close aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the state television program Moscow.Kremlin.Putin USAToday.

“He keeps emphasizing the need to bring[griner]home … but that’s not the main issue we’re worried about.”

Ushakov’s comments come after Griner’s wife Cherelle said in an interview last week she was afraid her partner would never return home.

The 31-year-old basketball star has been jailed in Russia since February, when she was arrested by authorities days after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine began. The seven-time WNBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist has been sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court after pleading guilty to the charges against her.

The Biden administration has made Griner’s case one of its top priorities, along with another wrongly imprisoned American, former US Marine Paul Whalen.

President Biden said last week he had no intention of meeting Putin at an upcoming G20 summit but would consider it if the Russian leader wanted to discuss Griner’s release.

Griner’s wife said in an interview with CBS’ Gayle King on Thursday that she felt like she was stuck in a movie.

“In no world did I ever think that our President and a President of a foreign nation would have to sit down and discuss my wife’s freedom,” she told the CBS Mornings anchor. “To me, it feels like she’s a hostage… It scares me.”

Cherelle Griner added that both Russia and the US need to settle their differences and work on solutions to bring their partner home.

“My brain can’t even fathom it,” she told King. “I feel like I’m hearing something new every day, and it’s terrifying.” Brittney Griner’s release is not a priority for the Kremlin, says Putin adviser

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