American basketball player Brittney Griner has been transferred to Mordovia, a region of Russia known for its prison colonies during the Soviet era, to serve a 9-year term for drug offenses.
The conditions Griner can anticipate in the IK-2 colony in the town of Yavas are described in the following excerpts from an interview with Olga Romanova, a spokeswoman of the prisoner rights group Russia Behind Bars, conducted by Reuters. Inquiries from Reuters into the living and working conditions at such facilities have gone unanswered by the Russian prison service.
In the living quarters there are barracks, each with its own yard. The women live in barracks, around 80-100 people, up to 120 – Mordovia has big prisons. There’s a simple shower room, a bathroom with several toilets, a sink, a storage room to keep things and a small room with a kettle where a few people can drink tea together. From 6 a.m. till 9 p.m., you are prohibited from lying or sitting on your bed.
The yard is fenced off with barbed wire. It is an area where women who live in a barrack, which is usually one squad that has a number assigned, can step outside to get some air and smoke, look at the sunset, so to speak. This is where in the morning they have the daily inspection, rollcall and physical exercise, whatever the weather. Exercise is mandatory.
The women eat in a communal dining room. They go there in rows within their squad. They always wear uniform. The uniform is green. They sew it there for themselves. The uniform is low-quality, light fabric like they use for rainwear, and compulsory footwear. The footwear is those artificial black boots, very uncomfortable. You can’t wear any other footwear. I think that will be a problem for Brittney: she’s a tall woman with a non-standard figure and I think non-standard shoe size. It will be problematic to dress her and find shoes for her. You’re not allowed not to wear a uniform.