15 Mar 2022 23:10

Human rights activist calls on Lavrov, Blinken to facilitate prisoner swap

MOSCOW. March 15 (Interfax) - Vice-President of the Russian branch of the International Committee for the Protection of Human Rights Ivan Melnikov has appealed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to organize an exchange of prisoners whose situation has worsened due to the imposed sanctions.

"I asked Lavrov and Blinken to facilitate organizing the procedure of prisoner swap. It is no longer possible to transfer money to Russian prisoners' accounts in the U.S. due restrictions on transfers because of sanctions, and Americans will soon be unable to receive transfers in Russia due to U.S. sanctions," he told Interfax.

U.S. jails hold a number of Russian citizens, including Konstantin Yaroshenko and Viktor Bout, who are chronically ill and do not receive the medical assistance they need, the human rights activist said in his appeal. At the same time, U.S. citizens Trevor Reed, Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan, Marc Fogel and others are jailed in Russia.

"The relatives of the aforementioned citizens are very concerned about them and are hoping for a swap," Melnikov said.

He also said that he sent to the public monitoring commission of the Moscow region a request to inspect he incarceration conditions of U.S. basketball player and Olympic champion Brittney Griner arrested with drugs in Russia.

"The members of the public monitoring commission did a check and reported that she is being held in a three-person cell at a pre-trial detention facility and does not have complaints about her incarceration conditions, but she has been experiencing difficulties with her bunk because of her height, and she also requested a meeting with a consul," Melnikov said.