From Russia with hate

By Alex P. Vidal

“The judicial system is the most expensive machine ever invented for finding out what happened and what to do about it.”—Irving R. Kaufman

IF we stand on a neutral ground, either we will view the conviction of WNBA star Brittney Griner in a Russian court as “wrongful” or “correct.”

But if we are Americans and sports buffs at the same time, we will definitely condemn it.

My hearts goes out to the six feet and nine inches tall Olympic gold medalist who has been in jail since February this year, but I can’t question the way Russia implements its own laws.

If a Russian lawbreaker will be convicted in our own land for violating our laws, the Russians might protest it, but they also have no right to question our own judicial system.

If the nation is burning, it is fair to say that criminal justice systems everywhere in the world are a raging dumpster fire of injustice and those who implement them are the ones who lit the fuse.

Meanwhile, unable to secure an acquittal for the jailed basketball bird, some fellow Americans have developed hatred toward Russia’s judicial system after the 31-year-old basketball heartthrob, a lesbian, was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, on charges of smuggling drugs into the country.

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In the final pre-Beatlemania months of 1963, Matt Monro was hired to sing the From Russia With Love title theme of a James Bond 007 film:

From Russia with love I fly to you

Much wiser since my goodbye to you

I’ve travelled the world to learn

I must return from Russia with love…

Now that Griner has been sentenced to nine years in prison, some fans hurt by the verdict might change the title of that song to From Russia With Hate.

Griner’s lawyers described the verdict, just below the maximum sentence of 10 years, as “absolutely unreasonable” and said they will “certainly file an appeal.”

A Russian judge read Griner, 31, her verdict August 4 about an hour after her lawyers and the prosecution presented their closing arguments, reported the PEOPLE.

The Phoenix Mercury star had given an emotional speech, reiterating her stance that though she pled guilty to bringing less than 1 gram of cannabis oil into Russia, she did so “inadvertently” and asked the court for leniency.

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According to CNN, Griner sobbed: “That’s why I pled guilty to my charges. I understand everything that’s been said against me, the charges that are against me and that is why I pled guilty but I had no intents to break any Russian laws.”

President Joe Biden has called the ruling as “unacceptable.”

The President said: “Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.”

He added: “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

Russian prosecutors had asked the judge during closing arguments to sentence Griner to nine years and six months in prison, just below the maximum allowed sentence of 10 years.

The prosecution also asked that Griner was fined 1 million rubles, roughly equivalent to $16,600, according to The New York Times.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)

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