Home Sports IK-2: Brittney Griner’s Nightmare

IK-2: Brittney Griner’s Nightmare

IK-2: Brittney Griner's Nightmare

Brittney Griner’s situation continues to be extremely worrying. Negotiations by the US government to release the center (2.06, 32 years old), one of the best players in history, do not bear fruit and the Texan player (one of the only eleven with Olympic gold, world gold, title of the NCAA and WNBA ring) continues to serve the nine-year prison sentence imposed on him on August 4 on drug possession charges. Griner was detained on February 17 at the Sheremetyevo airport, one of four in Moscow. They found in her luggage vape cartridges with cannabis oil, illegal in Russia and that the player claimed that she used for medicinal purposes.

His sentence, according to the Russian penal code, has to be served in a penal colony, no matter how much the US government considers it “unfair” and “disproportionate” and has made high-profile strategic prisoner exchange offers to achieve freedom that does not come to Griner, for whose health there are fears since she is also African-American and homosexual, traits that are believed to make things even more difficult for her in harsher times. Russian penal institutions.

Concern, while American basketball continues to ask that this case not be forgotten, has multiplied when they became known the conditions in which the inmates of the IK-2 center are found, to which Griner has been transferred, in the Republic of Mordovia. Human rights experts have raised their voices, including (in words to Guardian) Olga Zeveleva, a sociologist at the University of Helsinki and a specialist in living conditions in Russian prisons as part of the project “echoes of the gulag”: “The prisons in Mordovia are admittedly terrible, even by Russian standards. It is known that there are very harsh regimes there and serious violations of human rights. It is the place that any prisoner wants to avoid”. There is a common phrase among imprisoned women in Russia that says “if you have not spent time in Mordovia, nor have you been incarcerated”. A proof of the harsh reality of a move after which the shadow of the tension between the US and Russia caused by the invasion and the war in Ukraine lengthens.



In full and uninhabited taigathe boreal forests of the region, and almost 500 kilometers from Moscow, the penal colony IK-2 It was built in the 1930s as part of Stalin’s gulag system and is part of one of the largest prison complexes in Europe.. Judith Pallot, Professor of Human Geography at Oxford, visited this center in 2017: “When you arrive, it is as if you entered a different society. It seems that time has stood still for 50 years. According to Pallot, also in statements to The Guardian, Griner will be sharing a dormitory with about a hundred other women in a small space with bunk beds to sleep on: “The prisoners don’t have any privacy. You cannot have personal items, you cannot put photos of your relatives or loved ones. It’s all sterile, sad.”

After the transfer, the prisoners who arrive at this IK-2 colony spend two weeks in a “quarantine module” where they are checked for infectious diseases. There they turn in their clothes and are given a uniform and a headscarf that they have to wear at all times. Everything is in Russian, there is nothing translated into English or another language and nobody speaks in another language. While complying with the aforementioned quarantine, the detainee is awarded a otheradthe module in which he will serve his sentence and a term that refers to both the physical space and the occupations that he will have to carry out.

From there, the day begins at 6am with group exercises. The rest of the day takes place between work shifts of up to 12 hours, basically sewing with uniforms for the prison service or the Russian air forces fighting in Ukraine. The worst does not end here, rather it is only the beginning: human rights observers have been documenting cases of torture and sexual abuse in Russian male prisons for years. And although in the feminine the level of violence is not so high, yes they are habitual the bullying between the inmates and violence by the guards: “It is not a system focused on rehabilitation but is based on punishment. It is structured based on violence”, confirms Pallot, who explains that the organization has a lot of self-management among the prisoners and that there is hardly any other type of supervision, especially at night. “It goes against any norm that is applied in Western prisons, it is an open door to bullying and physical abuse.”

Insults, torture, abuse…

The situation in the Pelan colonies of Mordovia already became famous in 2013, when one of the members of the group pussy riot He published a letter from the IK-14 center, where he spent two years and went so far as to declare a hunger strike due to the conditions in which he found himself. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spoke of 17-hour workdays and “an atmosphere of anxiety and threat that seeps into everything. Permanent sleep deprivation, pressure to meet inhumane work quotas, inmates constantly on the brink of breaking down, yelling at each other non-stop and fighting over the smallest things”.



Olga Shilayeva spent five years in the IK-2 center: “The conditions of a normal prison do not exist there,” she said while recalling that she was physically assaulted for five years by a guard who was later promoted to chief in that colony. The location of Griner in such a place, according to experts, is not by chance: they are centers whose directors are totally loyal to the Moscow regime, and their location makes them especially inaccessible to controllers and the press. Voices of former inmates from the same center assure that Griner will have to listen to “insults that no one should have to hear” and she will be “subjected to torture.” One, anonymously, assured the Daily Mail that even the life of the player is in danger: “She will surely be attacked in the toilets, she will be robbed… The Russian government has long taught its people that the Americans are the enemy of humanity.”.

Tolokonnikova continued to explain her nightmare in this way, this time for the nbc American: “Griner has been sent to the worst prison in all of Russia. He works 16 hours a day sewing and preparing uniforms. There are injuries because the material and machinery are damaged and aged. Beatings and torture are normal, there is almost no medical assistance of any kind. If they are not working in uniforms, the prisoners do very hard physical work, such as digging trenches, destroying ice caps… if one refuses to carry out the tasks ordered, they are sent to a punishment cell, isolated in a minimal and icy space. The barracks have between three and five bathrooms for the more than 100 occupants. There is no hot water… they are places that are the same as in the days of the gulags, nothing has been fixed or changed. The conditions are basically slavery. Some decide to commit suicide, which is not even easy in a place like that”.

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