According to a media report, Moscow is said to have demanded the transfer of the convicted Russian Vadim K. in the so-called Tiergarten murder case in negotiations about the release of two Americans imprisoned in Russia. The US broadcaster CNN reported on Friday, citing sources familiar with the talks.
The spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, confirmed on Friday the US news channel CNN that Russian officials had made such a move.
However, he firmly rejected the request. “Holding two wrongly imprisoned Americans hostage in exchange for the release of a Russian killer in the custody of a third country is not a serious counteroffer,” Kirby said.
“It is a malicious attempt to circumvent the offer at hand.” Russia must take the US offer seriously.
Russia submitted this request to the United States earlier this month via informal intelligence channels. According to the report, the request was classified as problematic, among other things, because the 56-year-old is in prison in Germany.
In addition, Moscow is demanding the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who has been imprisoned in the United States.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Friday for the first time since the war in Ukraine began. The background is an offer by the USA that the release of the US basketball player Brittney Griner imprisoned in Russia and the American citizen Paul Whelan should be achieved.
The US government has not yet released any details about the nature of the offer and has not confirmed that it will be a prisoner swap. Up until now, there had always been reports of an exchange of prisoners with arms dealer Bout.
US representatives had contacted Germany to find out in principle whether K. could become part of the swap deal, the news channel reported, citing a German government official. But that was never seriously considered.
The so-called Tiergarten murder had led to diplomatic upheavals between Germany and Russia. Both states expelled several diplomats from the other country.
In August 2019, a Georgian was shot dead in the Kleiner Tiergarten park in Berlin. The Berlin Court of Appeal had sentenced a Russian to life imprisonment. The judges were convinced that he acted on behalf of Russian state authorities. Russia denies such allegations.
Basketball star Griner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in mid-February for possession of cannabis oil. She faces up to ten years in prison for drug smuggling.