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Details Emerge About Brittney Griner’s Life In ‘Harshest’ Russian Penal Colony

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


WNBA star Brittney Griner is facing hellish conditions at the penal colony she has been sent to as punishment for being caught with a vape pen with cannabis.

A former prisoner from the same camp that Griner is in has detailed the horrifying conditions the basketball star could be facing.

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Nadya Tolokonnikova, a survivor and activist, who spent time in the same Russian penal colony Griner is in, explained the harsh conditions she faces, Clutch points reported.

“Prisoners in IK-2 work in slave-like conditions…Some [prisoners] decide to commit suicide, which is not as easy in penal colony conditions,” she said.

IK-2 is considered the “harshest” penal colony in Russia and it is the one at which Griner is housed.

She also narrated the other brutal living conditions that the Phoenix Mercury player could be dealing with right now, including “16 hours work days,” beatings and tortures, as well as heavy physical labor.

Prisoners are also tasked to sew uniforms for the Russian army and police. They also “share barracks with 100 other people, with only 3-5 toilets for all, and no hot water,” and are only allowed to shower once a week.

Unfortunately for Brittney Griner, it doesn’t look like her release is imminent. After she was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug possession and smuggling charges, there have been talks about a potential prisoner exchange.

“We are not going to comment on the specifics of any proposals other than to say that we have made a substantial offer that the Russian Federation has consistently failed to negotiate in good faith,” a spokesman for the State Department said.

“The U.S. Government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russian government. The Russian government’s failure to seriously negotiate on these issues in the established channel, or any other channel for that matter runs counter to its public statements,” they said.

The American prisoner has been moved to a penal colony where the sign on the facility, translated, reads “Welcome To Hell,” The Daily Mail reported.

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Griner has been moved to IK-2 in Yavas, one of several penal colonies in the region, according to Reuters. 

A State Department Spokesperson could not confirm that report to DailyMail.com, saying that Russia has refused to share any details with the US Embassy…

Griner was sentenced in August following her February arrest at an airport in Moscow, when Russian authorities say she was caught entering the country with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She had been at a detention center near Moscow until November 4, when she was moved to an undisclosed prison.

It has been two weeks since any information about her whereabouts have surfaced.

Founded for the Soviet gulag system in 1931, Yavas remains one of the largest hubs in the Russian network of prisons and penal colonies. It currently has three institutions, including a women’s colony, a men’s colony, and a co-ed colony. 

“We are aware of reports of her location, and in frequent contact with Ms. Griner’s legal team,” a State Department spokesperson said.. “However, the Russian Federation has still failed to provide any official notification for such a move of a US citizen, which we strongly protest. The Embassy has continued to press for more information about her transfer and current location.”

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“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long. As the Administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the President has directed the Administration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony. As we have said before, the U.S. Government made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American citizens. In the subsequent weeks, despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. Government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russians through all available channels. The U.S. Government is unwavering in its commitment to its work on behalf of Brittney and other Americans detained in Russia – including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

“Griner will face harsh conditions in the forced labor camp, and it will be difficult for her family to contact her or even know her exact location. According to her agent Lindsay Colas, Griner’s team is in close contact with the U.S. government and the Richardson Center, an organization that works to release American detainees,” Fox News said.

“Our primary concern continues to be BG’s [Brittney Griner’s] health and well-being,” he agent said.

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