Brittney Griner is preparing to go on trial in Russia, formally accused of trying to bring hashish oil vape cartridges into the country.

She was arrested on Feb. 17 and has been in Russian custody ever since. A trial date of Friday, July 1 is set for a Moscow courtroom.

No one is expecting a “fair” trial like in the U.S. More likely to happen is the type of show trials seen during Stalin’s reign, and the verdict as a foregone conclusion. Griner is not a defendant. At best she’s a political pawn, at worst she’s a prisoner of war. Many outlets say Russia is “open” to negotiating her release. Details of what the Russians would want aren’t public, but many believe the demands would be tied to loosening restrictions imposed since they invaded Ukraine.

Griner is Black, American, and a lesbian, three classifications that aren’t seen as positives in Russia. The country has long been anti-LGBT and bans any mention of gay in places where children could be influenced. But until this incident, she had long been embraced by Russia. Griner, like many WNBA players, played on professional women’s basketball teams there for years to make extra money, as the WNBA pay isn’t great. Many see the timing of her arrest and the start of the war as more than coincidence.

The U.S. said she’s “wrongfully detained” and has been working diplomatic channels to get her released. Now it appears Russia wants to embarrass the U.S. and go forward with the trial.

American Conservatives Silently Cheering Russia

While Russia’s atrocities seem like par for the course for traditional European and Asian dictatorships, there are many Americans who think they have the right idea. Many right-wing politicians espouse ideas that echo Russia’s public policy.

“Don’t Say Gay” was rammed through the Florida legislature to “protect kids.” Christian preachers call for gays to be rounded up, tried, and executed. The Texas GOP officially endorsed ending marriage equality. And Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas encouraged the court to let states criminalize homosexual activities in their own home.

These policies aren’t confined to the low-life bully states of Russia, Belarus, and Islamic fiefdoms. They are now firmly part of the Republican agenda to wipe out established rights for LGBT people, silence them, and erase them.

Russia may think they’re close to a deal for Griner’s release, and set a trial date to put pressure on the U.S. to get it done. Or they may send her to prison for years.

Whenever Brittney Griner comes home, there’s a good chance it will resemble the place she left.


BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS