March 21, 2024

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Basketball Star Griner Begins Sentence in Remote Russian Prison Lawyers

3 min read
Basketball Star Griner Begins Sentence in Remote Russian Prison Lawyers

Brittney Griner, a basketball player whose situation has sparked intense resentment in the United States, has been sent to a remote Russian penal colony, according to her attorneys.

After being detained at a Moscow airport in February, the US athlete was sentenced to nine years in prison in August for having vape cartridges containing a small amount of cannabis oil.

The 32-year-old’s case comes at a time of intense hostilities between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine.

“Brittney began serving her sentence at IK-2 in Mordovia,” lawyers In a statement, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said.

“We went to see her earlier this week. As expected, Brittney is coping well and making an effort to maintain her composure as she adjusts to her new surroundings.”

The lawyers said no further comment would be provided “considering that this is a very challenging period for her”.

Last week US President Joe Biden voiced hope that Russian leader Vladimir Putin would negotiate “more seriously” to free Griner.

“My intention is to get her home, and we’ve had a number of discussions so far,” he said at the time.

The White House reported that on Monday, the heads of the US and Russian intelligence services met in person for the first time to discuss American hostages held by Moscow and Moscow’s nuclear threats against Ukraine.

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency William Burns met with Sergei Naryshkin, head of the SVR foreign intelligence service of Russia, in what appeared to be the highest-level direct talks between officials of the two nations since Russia sent troops to Ukraine in February.

According to observers, Griner and Paul Whelan, a retired US Marine who was detained in December 2018 and accused of spying, along with another American in prison in Russia, could be exchanged for Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year sentence following a 2012 conviction.

Basketball Star Griner Begins Sentence in Remote Russian Prison Lawyers

Abuse in Prisons

The IK-2 prison colony is located in the harsh climate-prone region of central Mordovia, in the town of Yavas.

The IK stands for a “corrective colony”, the most common type of prison in Russia.

The IK-2 is home to more than 800 prisoners who live in barracks, according to Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service.

Whelan, who was found guilty of spying in 2020 and given a 16-year sentence, is currently incarcerated in the IK-17 colony, which is located in Mordovia.

His family claims that he was mistreated and deprived of sleep there.

Russian prisons are notorious for their harsh treatment of prisoners, filthy surroundings, and lack of access to quality healthcare.

In comparison to detention facilities, conditions in penal colonies are much harsher.

According to activists, the vast network of prisons in Russia, which is a replacement for the infamous Gulag system of the Stalin era, frequently engages in abuse and torture.

Griner was playing for the professional Yekaterinburg team in Russia during her off-season from the Phoenix Mercury when she was arrested. Griner is a two-time gold medalist in basketball at the Olympics and a Women’s NBA champion.

Despite admitting guilt, she maintained that she had no desire to break the law or use a substance that was illegal in Russia.

Griner testified that she had received approval to use medicinal cannabis from a US doctor to treat the pain from her numerous injuries and had never failed a drug test.

Russia does not allow the use of medical marijuana.


The United States is sending billions of dollars worth of weapons to Russia in response to its offensive in Ukraine, which has caused heightened tensions.

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