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German Man Arrested in St Petersburg Airport for Smuggling Cannabis Gummy Bear




A 38-year-old German man has been apprehended at St Petersburg airport by Russian customs officials following the discovery of cannabis-infused gummy bear sweets in his luggage. Border authorities flagged the “pungent-smelling” sweets, enclosed in a packet adorned with a marijuana leaf.

The individual now faces charges of drug smuggling, a crime that carries a potential prison sentence of up to seven years. This incident occurs amid ongoing discussions about a potential prisoner exchange between Washington and the Kremlin. Moscow is seeking negotiations for the release of a Russian citizen, Vadim Krasikov, who is incarcerated in Germany for the 2019 murder of a Chechen dissident in a Berlin park.

Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed the possibility of a prisoner swap during an interview with US journalist Tucker Carlson last week. While Moscow hopes to exchange Krasikov for an American citizen, Berlin has not publicly addressed the prospect.

A video released by Russian officials depicts the German man undergoing a rucksack search at the airport, repeatedly insisting that the seized bear-shaped sweets are merely “wine gums.” However, a subsequent test revealed the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive substance banned in Russia.

The detained individual asserted that he purchased the cannabis gummies in Germany, where they are legally used for medical purposes. He claimed to use them during long flights to aid sleep. The man arrived in Russia from Hamburg, flying via Istanbul, to visit a woman he had met online. Germany's Foreign Ministry has confirmed its engagement with the man's legal representation.

The case draws parallels with the February 2022 arrest of American professional basketball player Brittney Griner, sentenced to nine years in a Moscow prison for drug smuggling after cannabis oil was discovered in her hand luggage. Griner, prescribed medical cannabis in the US, was eventually released in a 2022 prisoner swap with the controversial Russian arms dealer Victor Bout.

Western officials have accused Russia of employing imprisoned foreign citizens as bargaining tools in potential prisoner exchanges. Ongoing negotiations involve Washington's pursuit of the release of two Americans, journalist Evan Gershkovich and former US Marine Paul Whelan, both detained in Russia on spying charges, which Western officials describe as unfounded.

This story was originally published by the BBC.

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