WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner's Russian lawyers filed an appeal Monday asking that her nine-year prison sentence on drug charges be shortened or thrown out.
Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was arrested in February at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage. She said she packed it by accident, pleaded guilty and was formally convicted Aug. 4.
Griner played for a women's basketball team in Yekaterinburg, Russia's fourth-largest city, during the WNBA offseason.
The appeal comes one day after Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Kremlin is ready for "a professional conversation and concrete steps" toward freeing Griner and American Paul Whelan in exchange for Russian national Viktor Bout. Bout is serving a 25-year sentence on charges of conspiring to kill U.S. citizens, delivery of anti-aircraft missiles and providing aid to a terrorist organization.
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►More than 30,000 people have applied for Russian citizenship in the Zaporozhye region, Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the region's military civilian administration, said Monday.
►Ukraine troops destroyed two Russian military bases in the Zaporizhzhia and the Luhansk regions and an enemy ammunition depot in the Kherson region, said Serhii Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration.
►The invasion has killed 361 Ukrainian childen and injured 711 more, Ukraines's prosecutor general's office reported,
►Rocket attacks on the Saltivskyi district in Kharkiv wounded 5 people and damaged a high-rise building. Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.
►Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed the heads of the Security Service of Ukraine for the Kyiv region, Lviv and Ternopil. No explanation for the dismissals was released. Zelenskyy recently fired the head of the Security Service of Ukraine and the prosecutor general, saying scores of employees were working for the Russians.
►Ukraine's parliament extended martial law across the country for another 90 days.
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Ukraine mourns death of elite air force pilot Anton Lystopad
Anton Lystopad, one of the top pilots of Ukraine's Air Force, has been killed in combat. The Ivano-Frankivsk Physical-Technical Lyceum, from which Lystopad graduated, announced his death on a Facebook post. Multiple Ukrainian media outlets also reported his death. In 2019, Lystopad was recognized as the top pilot in the Ukraine Air Force. Days before his death, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy awarded Lystopad the Order of Courage for his professionalism and heroism.
"Anton Lystopad died defending the Ukrainian state," the Facebook post says. "From the first minutes of the broad-scale invasion of Russians, Captain Anton (fought for) Ukraine's freedom and independence."
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine live updates: WNBA's Brittney Griner appeals prison sentence