Brittney Griner will be experiencing racism, homophobia, and ‘facing hell’ inside Russian prison, expert says

Brittney Griner jailed for nine years
Brittney Griner (Image: EPA)


“Racist & homophobic”, “Beatings & torture are common.” Brittney Griner will be ‘facing hell’ inside Russian penal colony, according to latest reports 


Out US basketball star and two-time Olympic gold medallist Brittney Griner is currently serving her 9-year sentence for drugs charges in a Russian penal colony, having had her appeal rejected in October.

Brittney Griner, Mordovia penal colony in Russia
Mordovia penal colony in Russia, where Griner is currently being held (image Reuters)


Musician Nadya Tolokonnikova, a founder of group Pussy Riot, spent two years inside a Russian penal colony, following a 2012 arrest, and said “beatings and torture” are common, calling the facility that Griner is being held in “the harshest colony in the whole Russian prison system”.


Tolokonnikova told MSNBC that IK-2 is a labor camp where prisoners are expected to work 16 hours a day, medical care hardly exists, and incarcerated people are expected to spend days sewing the police army and guard uniforms of their jailers.

She called them “slave-like” conditions.



However, Tolokonnikova told MSNBC that Griner is likely ‘hiding’ some of the oppression she is facing, based on her own experience of being told that “the whole colony would suffer” should she share any details of abuse.



The basketball star was detained in February, after being arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for being in possession of a small amount (less than a gram in two vape cartridges) of cannabis oil.


Griner, 31, admitted possessing cannabis oil, pleading guilty at her trial in July, but told the court she made an “honest mistake”.

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” she told the court at the time.

Brittney Griner jailed for nine years on drug charges
Brittney Griner jailed for nine years on drug charges (Image: EPA)

On August 4, a Russian court convicted the athlete of smuggling and possessing narcotics and handed her close to the maximum sentence – which is ten years – recommended by prosecutors.

As Griner was being led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, sha could be seen mouthing: “I love my family.”



Ahead of her sentencing in August, Griner sent a hand written letter to US President Joe Biden, saying “please don’t forget about me”

She wrote, “I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home”.


“Our sister, Brittney Griner, is an American in peril in Russia”,the WNBPA tweeted in support of the athlete today (November 28).

“She needs the love and support of her country, sports governing bodies and every athlete on the planet to get released and home to her family. #WeAreBG #BringBGHome #BringThemHome”.


In August, US President Biden issued a statement, saying, “Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.”


“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”