The transfer of Brittney Griner, American basketball player, comes after the rejection of her request to appeal following a heavy nine-year prison sentence in August for “drug trafficking”, after her arrest in February at a Moscow airport in possession a vaporizer containing cannabis oil-based liquid.
“Brittney began serving her sentence at (penal colony) IK-2 in Mordovia,” a region in central Russia known for its prisons and harsh climate, lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boikov said in a statement. adding that they had been able to visit their client earlier this week.
“Very difficult period”
The 32-year-old sportswoman “is doing as well as possible and is trying to stay strong and adapt to her new environment”, added the lawyers, stressing that their client was going through a “very difficult period”.
His supporters denounce a condemnation to an excessive and politically motivated sentence, with a view to a possible exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Washington, whose relations have been greatly strained in the context of the conflict in Ukraine.
The White House ruled last week that “every minute Brittney Griner has to endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long.”
Among 800 prisoners
Penal colony IK-2, short for “correction colony number 2” in Russian, is located in the town of Iavas in Mordovia and has more than 800 prisoners.
Russian penal colonies are notorious for the mistreatment of their inmates, who are crammed into unsanitary barracks and often without access to adequate care.
Human rights NGOs regularly denounce the abuses and acts of torture committed in Russian prisons, often by prisoners who maintain good relations with the guards in exchange for privileges.