MOSCOW, August 11. /TASS/. Competent authorities in Russia and the United States are in talks to discuss potential prisoner swaps, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Spokesman Ivan Nechayev said at a briefing on Thursday.
"We have repeatedly commented on this. On August 5, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that Russia is ready to discuss the issue, but only within the channel negotiated by Russian President [Vladimir Putin] and US President [Joe Biden]. Let me remind you that corresponding competent authorities have been instructed to negotiate the issue. Competent agencies are in talks," the Russian diplomat said.
He also recalled Moscow’s plea to Washington "not to speculate on the sensitive issue affecting specific individuals."
"We would recommend abandoning futile attempts to put pressure on us and we are calling on them to concentrate on practical work along the available channels. There is no other way," Nechayev concluded.
"We proceed from the fact that the negotiations should take the interests of both sides into account," the diplomat emphasized.
Earlier, Washington offered Moscow to exchange Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who is serving a prison term in the US for arms trafficking, for basketball player Brittney Griner, sentenced to jail for drugs trafficking, and Paul Whelan, convicted in Russia of spying. The exchange of prisoners was one of the topics discussed in a telephone conversation between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in late July. American media reported later, citing unidentified sources, that Russia had proposed to include another Russian prisoner jailed in the West in the prisoner swap.