“Griner, an American basketball star, had been imprisoned in Russia on drugs charges.
WASHINGTON — Brittney Griner, the American basketball star imprisoned in Russia, was released on Thursday after 10 months of captivity after President Biden agreed to a swap for Viktor Bout, an imprisoned Russian arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death,” officials said.
Ms. Griner, an All-Star center with the W.N.B.A.’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was serving a nine-year prison sentence that put her at the center of a fraught geopolitical showdown between Washington and Moscow. In February, she was stopped at an airport near Moscow after customs officials found two vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.
The authorities in the southwestern Russian region of Belgorod have begun construction on a barrier close to the Ukrainian border and are setting up a territorial defense unit, in what they called a bid to deter a possible Ukrainian incursion — but some analysts said could be a propaganda effort.
Hundreds of pyramid-shaped concrete blocks several feet high have been placed in rows in fields, according to photographs posted on the social messaging app Telegram by the region’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov. He said the defense unit was being established in response to popular demand“