Russian parliament displays art by Griner case figure Bout

Nov 14, 2022, 6:53 PM | Updated: Dec 8, 2022, 3:21 pm
In this image taken from video provided by the RU-24 Russian Television on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, Ru...

In this image taken from video provided by the RU-24 Russian Television on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, Russian citizen Viktor Bout, right, who was exchanged for U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, boards a Russian plane after a swap, in the airport of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Russian arms dealer Bout, who was released from U.S. prison in exchange for WNBA star Griner, is widely labeled abroad as the "Merchant of Death" who fueled some of the world's worst conflicts but seen at home as a swashbuckling businessman unjustly imprisoned after an overly aggressive U.S. sting operation. (RU-24 Russian Television via AP)

(RU-24 Russian Television via AP)

              In this image taken from video provided by the RU-24 Russian Television on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, Russian citizen Viktor Bout, right, who was exchanged for U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, boards a Russian plane after a swap, in the airport of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Russian arms dealer Bout, who was released from U.S. prison in exchange for WNBA star Griner, is widely labeled abroad as the "Merchant of Death" who fueled some of the world's worst conflicts but seen at home as a swashbuckling businessman unjustly imprisoned after an overly aggressive U.S. sting operation. (RU-24 Russian Television via AP)
            
              In this image taken from video provided by RU-24 Russian Television on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, Russian citizen Viktor Bout who was exchanged for U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, speaks in a Russian plane after a swap, in the airport of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Russian arms dealer Bout, who was released from U.S. prison in exchange for WNBA star Griner, is widely labeled abroad as the "Merchant of Death" who fueled some of the world's worst conflicts but seen at home as a swashbuckling businessman unjustly imprisoned after an overly aggressive U.S. sting operation. (RU-24 Russian Television via AP)
            
              In this image taken from video provided by RU-24 Russian Television on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, Russian citizen Viktor Bout who was exchanged for U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, sits in a Russian plane after a swap, in the airport of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Russian arms dealer Bout, who was released from U.S. prison in exchange for WNBA star Griner, is widely labeled abroad as the "Merchant of Death" who fueled some of the world's worst conflicts but seen at home as a swashbuckling businessman unjustly imprisoned after an overly aggressive U.S. sting operation. (RU-24 Russian Television via AP)
            
              In this image taken from video provided by RU-24 Russian Television on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, Russian citizen Viktor Bout who was exchanged for U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, speaks in a Russian plane after a swap, in the airport of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Russian arms dealer Bout, who was released from U.S. prison in exchange for WNBA star Griner, is widely labeled abroad as the "Merchant of Death" who fueled some of the world's worst conflicts but seen at home as a swashbuckling businessman unjustly imprisoned after an overly aggressive U.S. sting operation. (RU-24 Russian Television via AP)
            
              In this image taken from video provided by RU-24 Russian Television on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, Russian citizen Viktor Bout who was exchanged for U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, sits in a Russian plane after a swap, in the airport of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Russian arms dealer Bout, who was released from U.S. prison in exchange for WNBA star Griner, is widely labeled abroad as the "Merchant of Death" who fueled some of the world's worst conflicts but seen at home as a swashbuckling businessman unjustly imprisoned after an overly aggressive U.S. sting operation. (RU-24 Russian Television via AP)
            
              In this image taken from video provided by the RU-24 Russian Television on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, Russian citizen Viktor Bout, right, who was exchanged for U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, boards a Russian plane after a swap, in the airport of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Russian arms dealer Bout, who was released from U.S. prison in exchange for WNBA star Griner, is widely labeled abroad as the "Merchant of Death" who fueled some of the world's worst conflicts but seen at home as a swashbuckling businessman unjustly imprisoned after an overly aggressive U.S. sting operation. (RU-24 Russian Television via AP)
            
              A journalist films with her smartphone during an opening of exhibition of artworks by Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in the United States, at the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Russia has sought Bout's release for years and he is believed to be key to a possible prisoner exchange that could free US women's basketball star Brittney Griner. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
            
              Viktor Bout's wife, Alla, speaks to journalists during an opening of exhibition of artworks by her husband, Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in the United States, at the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Russia has sought Bout's release for years and he is believed to be key to a possible prisoner exchange that could free US women's basketball star Brittney Griner. Grigory Karasin, head of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs stands near in the right. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
            
              Viktor Bout's wife, Alla, speaks to journalists during an opening of exhibition of artworks by her husband, Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in the United States, at the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Russia has sought Bout's release for years and he is believed to be key to a possible prisoner exchange that could free US women's basketball star Brittney Griner. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
            
              Viktor Bout's wife, Alla, speaks on the phone prior to an opening of exhibition of artworks by her husband, Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in the United States, at the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Russia has sought Bout's release for years and he is believed to be key to a possible prisoner exchange that could free US women's basketball star Brittney Griner. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
            
              Viktor Bout's wife, Alla, speaks to journalists during an opening of exhibition of artworks by her husband, Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in the United States, at the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Russia has sought Bout's release for years and he is believed to be key to a possible prisoner exchange that could free US women's basketball star Brittney Griner. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW (AP) — A show of prison artwork by Viktor Bout, the Russian arms trader serving 25 years in the United States and the focus of speculation about a prisoner swap that could free WNBA star Brittney Griner, opened Tuesday at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament.

The exhibition at the Federation Council underlines Russia’s strong interest in the release of Bout, whom Russian officials say is an “entrepreneur” who was unjustly arrested and sentenced to 25 years but who is characterized abroad as the ruthless “Merchant of Death.”

Russia has agitated for his release since he was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and later convicted of terrorism for allegedly trying to sell up to $20 million in weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, to shoot down U.S. helicopters.

The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to exchange Bout for Griner, who was sentenced in August to nine years in prison after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February.

The U.S. State Department has declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained.” As a two-time Olympic gold medalist and star for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, Griner is one of the most prominent U.S. female athletes and her case has put significant pressure on the White House to obtain her release.

U.S. President Joe Biden said last week that he hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin will be more willing to negotiate the release of Griner now that the U.S. midterm elections have been held.

He spoke hours after Griner’s lawyers revealed that she had been sent to one of Russia’s notoriously harsh penal colonies to serve her sentence following a court’s rejection of her appeal. Griner claims she used the vape cartridges for pain treatment and that they were only inadvertently in her luggage due to hasty packing for the trip to Russia, where she played for a Yekaterinburg team in the offseason.

There has been no obvious progress in negotiations, which Russian officials have insisted must remain out of the public eye. Washington reportedly is also seeking the release of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan who is serving a 16-year espionage sentence.

At the art show, whose works included a technically adept portrait of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and a sentimental portrayal of a kitten, the head of the upper chamber’s international relations committee, Grigory Karasin, vowed that “Russian diplomats will do everything so that he returns to his homeland as soon as possible. This is not an easy task, but we will continue our efforts.”

Bout’s wife, Alla, said at the show that she hadn’t discussed with her husband whether to apply for a presidential pardon, but that all avenues for appealing his sentence have been used up.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of Brittney Griner at https://apnews.com/hub/brittney-griner

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Vegas Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault (81) scores against Philadelphia Flyers goaltende...
Associated Press

Marchessault’s OT goal lifts Vegas to 2-1 win over Flyers

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jonathan Marchessault scored 3:21 into overtime and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Friday night. After the Flyers controlled much of the action in their offensive zone for the first three minutes of the extra period, Marchessault stole the puck from Kevin Hayes, raced in on a […]
1 day ago
Boston Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton (75) skates with the puck against Arizona Coyotes center Tr...
Associated Press

Coyotes end 19-game losing streak to Bruins with 4-3 win

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes’ return to the Mullett turned into one big streak-ending party. Lawson Crouse scored his second goal with 13.5 seconds left in the third period and the Coyotes returned home to end a 19-game losing streak to the Boston Bruins with a 4-3 victory Friday night. “They are a […]
1 day ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) checks on Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34...
Associated Press

Lopez layup, Mavs FT woes save Bucks after Giannis fouls out

DALLAS (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out before the Milwaukee Bucks hung on and beat Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. That sixth foul set the stage for how the Bucks made it four consecutive victories. Tim Hardaway Jr. missed all three free throws after getting fouled by the Greek Freak and Dorian Finney-Smith missed […]
1 day ago
Utah Jazz forward Kelly Olynyk, left, and Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) look for a...
Associated Press

D’Angelo Russell powers Timberwolves past Jazz, 118-108

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — D’Angelo Russell scored 20 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 13 rebounds in his return to Utah and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Jazz 118-108 on Friday night. Gobert was traded to Minnesota over the summer. The French center spent his first […]
1 day ago
New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green, second from left, puts his hand on Phoenix Suns guard...
Associated Press

Williamson’s 35 points lift Pelicans past Suns, 128-117

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Zion Williamson apologized for his 360-degree, one-handed slam dunk that angered the Phoenix Suns at the end of a game that the New Orleans Pelicans were already going to win. Still, the crowd-pleasing play symbolized Williamson’s potential to rise above the disappointments of previous seasons and live up to the extraordinary […]
1 day ago
Luuk de Jong of the Netherlands celebrates after scoring a penalty kick during the World Cup quarte...
Associated Press

Outnumbered Dutch eliminated in Louis van Gaal’s finale

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — The Dutch were outnumbered. Argentina had one Lionel Messi and the Netherlands had none. And still, the Oranje came back and forced extra time in a World Cup quarterfinal for the ages by scoring in the 83rd minute and then on a playground-type restart in the 11th — yes, 11th! — […]
1 day ago
Russian parliament displays art by Griner case figure Bout