Brittney Griner has reportedly begun her nine-year sentence at one of the worst prisons in Russia. According to The Nation, Griner is currently at a IK-2 penal colony in Yavas, in a snowy area about 270 miles southeast of Moscow in the federal subject of Mordovia. Founded by the Soviet gulag system in 1931, Yavas has three institutions, including a women’s colony, a men’s colony and a co-ed colony.
Conditions in the penal colony have been referred to as “slave-like” to people who have served at IK-2 before, citing non-existent medical care, 16-hour work days, racism and homophobia. Another infamous women’s facility in Mordovia, IK-14, is located seven minutes from Yavas.
Nadya Tolokonnikova, founder of rock band Pussy Riot, spent two years at IK-14, and recalled in a 2013 letter that “beatings and torture are common.”
‘As the inmates say, ”If you haven’t done time in Mordovia, you haven’t done time,” also noting that inmates are forced to work in a sewing shop for “16 to 17 hours a day” and get four hours of sleep nightly.
In August, Griner was sentenced to 9 years following her February arrest at a Moscow airport. Russian authorities claim Griner was caught entering the country with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The Phoenix Mercury player was then placed at a detention center near Moscow until November 1, where she was relocated to an undisclosed prison.
“Despite the fact she is alone and now nearing her ninth month in detention separated from her loved ones, she is trying to stay strong,” representatives for Griner said.