Russian state media and lawmakers praised President Vladimir Putin after Moscow sent WNBA star Brittney Griner to the United States for convicted Russian arms dealer Vitkor Bout, hailing the prisoner swap as a “capitulation by the United States.” “.
Russian state television presenter Yevgeny Popov wrote on his Telegram account that life for Bout, who returned to Russia late at night, is “just beginning,” according to Reuters.
“Everyone will forget about Griner tomorrow,” Popov added.
Maria Butina, who served 18 months in a US prison after being convicted of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, called the prisoner swap “a capitulation by the United States.”
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“It shows that Russia does not abandon its own while the United States has shown its defeat,” said Butina, who is now a Russian lawmaker, according to Reuters. “Russia did not forget.”
Russian state media also described Putin as a “winner” of the exchange with the United States, Reuters added.
Russian authorities have long pushed for the release of Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in a US prison after being convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiracy to launch anti-aircraft missiles and aiding a terrorist organization.
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He was captured in 2008 in a sting operation at a luxury hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, where he met with Drug Control Administration informants posing as officials of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which has been classified by US officials as a drug trafficker. terrorist group
Prosecutors said Bout was prepared to provide the group with $20 million worth of “an impressive arsenal of weapons, including hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, machine guns and sniper rifles, 10 million rounds of cartridges and five tons of plastic explosives.” ”
Paul Best, Caitlin McFall and The Associated Press of Fox News contributed to this report.