U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner returns to a Russian court on Thursday as her drugs trial grinds towards a finale that could result in a 10-year prison sentence and then a prisoner swap for one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Feb. 17 with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.
Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
The cartridges threw the 31-year-old Texan athlete into the geopolitical maelstrom triggered when President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
During the most strained U.S.-Russian relations since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, U.S. President Joe Biden is under pressure to intervene on behalf of detained Americans — including Griner.
The United States has said Griner was wrongfully detained and made what Secretary of State Antony Blinken called a “substantial offer” to Moscow to exchange Russian prisoners for American citizens held in Russia, including Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.
One source familiar with the situation said that Washington was willing to exchange convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout, whose life helped inspire the 2005 Hollywood film “Lord of War”, starring Nicholas Cage.
Russian officials have said a deal has not been reached. They argue that Griner — known as “BG” to basketball fans — violated the country’s laws and should be judged accordingly.
The Kremlin has also repeatedly warned Washington against resorting to megaphone diplomacy, or negotiations conducted through press releases. They say this strategy could derail the swap.
Griner’s lawyer said on Tuesday that the trial should end very soon and that once the court renders a verdict, a swap between Russia and the United States would become legally possible.
Griner, who pleaded guilty but denied intending to break Russian laws, has shown little emotion in court. Her lawyer said on Tuesday that Griner was both nervous and focused as the trial neared its end.
Wearing round-rimmed glasses and athletic clothing at every hearing, Griner listened to the proceedings via a translator and spoke quietly to her lawyers through the bars of the defendant’s cage at the Khimki District Court outside Moscow.
Before taking a seat, Griner held up personal photographs, including many of her wife Cherelle, whom Biden called last month to assure that Washington was working to secure Griner’s release.
Griner, selected first overall by the Phoenix Mercury in the 2013 WBNA draft, had flown to Russia to join her team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, for the playoffs after spending time at home in the United States.
Like several other prominent U.S. national team stars, Griner played in the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League during the WNBA offseason.
In her testimony last week, Griner expressed puzzlement as to how the vape cartridges had ended up in her luggage.
“I still don’t understand to this day how they ended up in my bag,” she told the court on July 27. “If I had to guess on how they ended up in my bags, I was in a rush packing.”
Griner had been prescribed medical marijuana in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, a treatment method that is common among elite athletes because it has fewer side effects than some painkillers.
Kim Kardashian ‘very sad’ about Pete Davidson breakup: It’s ‘been hard’
Kim Kardashian has the breakup blues.
The reality star is “very sad” about her split from Pete Davidson last week, a source tells Page Six exclusively.
Our insider says it’s “been hard” for Kardashian, 41, who dated Davidson, 28, for nine months.
We’re told “distance and schedules” contributed to the pair’s decision to call it quits, but they still “love and respect” each other.
The “Kardashians” star will always care for the “Saturday Night Live” alum and “have his back,” our source shares.
Another insider previously told us that although both parties are “bummed” their romance didn’t go the distance, they’re not terribly shocked.
“Pete knew it wasn’t going to work,” the second source said. “He’d been saying it for a while — and Kim knew it, too.”
A third insider told us that the duo’s age difference played a role in why they parted ways.
With 13 years between them, the third source explained that they are “just in very different places at the moment.”
Davidson has been spending much of his summer working on a movie in Australia, while Kardashian is juggling her businesses and co-parenting her four young children with ex-husband Kanye West in Los Angeles.
Now, the beauty mogul has the added stress of dealing with West’s latest social media antics.
On Monday morning, three days after the news of Kete’s split broke, the “Gold Digger” rapper, 45, posted an image on Instagram of a doctored New York Times front-page article with the headline, “SKETE DAVIDSON DEAD AT AGE 28.”
It wasn’t the first time West — who dubbed Davidson “Skete” during their one-sided feud earlier this year — invoked the comedian’s death, leaving Kardashian “livid.”
“Kanye is back to his old ways, and Kim will not tolerate his bullying behavior toward the people she loves and cares about,” an insider told us, adding that the petty move only reinforces “why there will never be a chance of reconciliation” between the former couple, who became legally single in March.
Another source shared with us that Kardashian asked West to delete the post several times before he finally did Monday afternoon.
Kanye West reacts to Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian’s breakup
Kanye West showed no mercy after Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson’s breakup.
The rapper on Monday shared an Instagram photo of a fake newspaper headline reading “Skete Davidson dead at age 28.”
The post came three days after reports surfaced that Kardashian and Davidson were done after nine months of dating.
West, who was married to Kardashian from 2014 until their split in 2021, publicly took issue with the reality star’s relationship with the comedian Davidson.
In March, West released a music video for the song “Eazy” that appeared to depict an animated Davidson being kidnapped and buried alive.
Later that month, Davidson texted West that he was “In bed with your wife” during a spat with the “Mercy” rapper, according to screenshots posted on Instagram at the time by comedian Dave Sirus.
[ Pete Davidson tells Kanye West he’s in ‘bed with your wife’ as rapper rants about custody of kids with Kim Kardashian ]
West, 45, shared Instagram videos that day complaining about custody of his four kids with Kardashian, saying in one video, “The boyfriend texts me, antagonizing me, bragging about being in bed with my wife.”
Kardashian, 41, and West’s divorce was finalized this year. West, who goes by the stage name Ye, has been publicly vocal about his hopes of getting back together.
The 24-time Grammy winner and the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” star have two daughters and two sons. Their kids range in age from 3 to 9 years old.
The Staten Island-born Davidson, 28, ended his eight-season run on “Saturday Night Live” earlier this year. He was previously engaged to pop star Ariana Grande and has also dated the actress Kate Beckinsale.
VIDEO: Why Kizz Daniel was arrested in Tanzania
Music star, Oluwatobiloba Daniel Anidugbe, also known as Kizz Daniel has allegedly been arrested by the Tanzanian Police.
Kizz Daniel was arrested for not showing up at his scheduled concert.
He was scheduled to perform at the Warehouse, Old Nextdoor Arena in Tanzania on Sunday but did not show up to the venue.
Disgruntled fans had taken to social media, expressing displeasure over the Singer’s failure to show up on Sunday.
Reports said the ‘Buga’ crooner refused to mount the stage because he allegedly forgot his travelling bag in Uganda and didn’t want to wear borrowed clothes.
However, the angry fans who reportedly paid $5000 for tables were seen hurling bottles at each other and destroying properties at the event centre.
A viral video of the arrest showed the singer wearing a hooded jacket and being led into a police vehicle.
This is the second time the singer has failed to perform at a fully booked concert while fans waited.
He had last month kept fans waiting for hours at his DMV concert in New York but later blamed his no-show on immigration challenges.
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