Brittney Griner is facing 'terrible' life inside grim Russian penal colony
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American basketball player Brittney Griner is reportedly living a 'miserable' life inside a Russian penal colony.
Despite being reprimanded in possession of less than a gram of hash oil in February, she is now locked up in one of the country's most notorious prisons - IK-2 in Mordovia, an isolated colony in Moscow.
This has prompted some speculation that she is being held deliberately as a high profile hostage to protest Western sanctions against Russia in light of its ongoing war with Ukraine.
Marina Alexandrova, a University of Texas associate with specialist knowledge of Russian prisons, has now speculated about what the athlete's life will be like.
"Her life will be very difficult," she said of life inside the IK-2 penal colony. "It will be terrible."
Inmates are reportedly forced to get up at 6am for a breakfast of milk porridge, bread and tea before they are forced to carry out forced labour.
They are allowed only a brief break for lunch and an hour of free time after they receive dinner at the end of the day.
Little was previously known about the prisons in Mordovia until punk musician Nadezhda Tolokonnikova found herself imprisoned in one for 'hooliganism'.
"As the prisoner saying goes," Tolokonnikova said, "those who never did time in Mordovia never did time at all."
She was ultimately treated so badly that she decided to go on hunger strike to protest what were described as unrealistic production quotas, physical abuse and unsanitary conditions that included overflowing toilets.
She claims that prisoners were kept in line using a number of inhumane practices - such as being forced to stay outside in the cold.
The US State Department weighed in on the basketball player's case and said that she has been 'wrongfully detained' after she was sentenced to nine years for smuggling in August.
Her lawyers said in a statement: "Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adapts to a new environment.
"Considering that this is a very challenging period for her, there will be no further comments from us."
The human right's organisation Amnesty International has previously investigated Russian prisons in the area, and in a 2017 report, they described them as 'among the worst in Europe.'