Several former inmates in the Russian Republic of Mordovia penal colonies said that WNBA star Brittney Griner will likely face “brutal” conditions during her time in one of the many prisons there during her nine-year sentence for possessing a vape cartridge with traces of hash oil.
According to The Nation, Griner is in the IK-2 penal colony at Mordovia, considered the Russian “land of prisons” about 250 miles outside of Moscow.
Nadya Tolokonnikova, a member of the Russian activist Pussy Riot band, told the news outlet that during her two-year sentence at one of the prisons, inmates work 16-hour days repairing the uniforms of guards and police, and that “beatings and torture” are commonplace.
“As the inmates say, ‘'If you haven't done time in Mordovia, you haven't done time,’'' Tolokonnikova wrote in a letter published in 2013.
The Daily Mail reported that another former inmate, Veronika Krass, said that the IK-4 prison has a sign at the entrance saying, “welcome to hell.”
“When the girls find out that they're going to Mordovia, they cut their wrists, do everything possible: get sick, swallow nails, just so they don't have to go there. Its reputation is known," The Mail reported Gelena Alekseyeva, a former deputy minister who was sentenced in 2013 to 3 1/2 years in prison for abetting commercial bribery as saying.
Ironically, the former Federal Penitentiary Service Director, who said Tolokonnikova’s characterization of the IK-14 being a sweatshop was “correct,” and who opened an investigation into corruption at the facility resulting in the removal of the prison’s then Director Yury Kupriyanov, was himself charged with taking bribes and corruption in July, RAPSI, the Russian Legal Information Agency reported.
Reuters reported Monday that discussions about freeing Griner and fellow American Paul Whalen from Russian prisons are continuing but have not yet generated a “serious response.”
"The United States, as we have said, has put a significant proposal on the table. We have followed up on that proposal and we have proposed alternatives," Elizabeth Rood, the U.S. chargée d'affaires in Moscow said in the report. "Unfortunately, so far the Russian Federation has not provided a serious response to those proposals."
Sportswriter John Feinstein blamed the seeming apathy by the United States to resolve the situation on the fact that Griner is a homosexual Black woman in a post on Twitter Monday.
“I wish I could say I'm surprised by the lack of sympathy — and outright anger — directed at Brittney Griner,” he said in the tweet. “She committed a minor crime and is in a Russian penal colony. But because she's not white, or male, or straight, lots of people don't care or are happy. Sad.”
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