A former prisoner who spent nearly two years in a Russian penal colony compared imprisonment to life in a Gulag labor camp. Now, according to the former inmate, Brittney Griner could face same circumstances.
In 2012, Maria Alyokhina of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot was imprisoned for protesting against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral. Alyokhina was made available in December of 2013.
“This structure does not contain cells. This town is odd, like a Gulag labor camp “Alyokhina acknowledged as much in a Thursday Reuters article. Alyokhina compared life in a penal colony to the forced labor camps that held millions of Russians between the 1920s and 1950s under Stalin’s reign.
A Russian court dismissed Griner’s appeal against a nine-year prison sentence in October. In August, Griner was sentenced to a prison colony for cocaine possession and smuggling.
Reuters stated that during Alyokhina’s stint in a correctional colony, she shared a room with 80 other women and had access to only three bathrooms and no hot water. Alyokhina said that the prison colony where she was imprisoned had “beds made of planks.” According to the study, inmates were placed in solitary confinement for improperly buttoning their coats or wearing their name tags sideways.
“It is basically a labor camp because all prisoners are required by law to work. The cynical aspect of this labor is that inmates typically sew police uniforms and uniforms for the Russian military for almost no compensation “Alyokhina remarked.
Russian investigators arrested Griner in February at a Moscow airport after discovering vape cartridges containing less than one gram of cannabis oil. In Russia, drug trafficking carries a maximum prison penalty of ten years. Griner was charged with this crime.
According to Reuters, Alyokhina encouraged people to give Griner cards and letters of support, adding that Griner should not be left “alone with this system.”
“It’s very inhuman, it’s a Gulag, and when you feel alone there, it’s much simpler to give up,” said Alyokhina.
Insider earlier reported that Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner stated on ABC’s The View that the denial of the appeal was “absurd.” The wife of Griner noted that she was discouraged and that there was “nothing further to anticipate from a legal aspect.”
Human rights organizations have accused Russia of employing Griner as a “political pawn” and have urged the Biden administration to advocate for her release. Bloomberg reports that the only way Griner might be extradited to the United States is through a prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia, but negotiations appear to have stalled.
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