According to her attorneys, the basketball player Brittney Griner has already begun serving her term in a distant Russian correctional camp.
According to a statement from attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, Britney started serving her sentence in IK-2 in Mordovia.
"We went to see her this week. Brittney is adjusting to her new environment as best she can while doing as well as could be anticipated."
After being detained at a Moscow airport in February, the US athlete was sentenced to nine years in prison in August for possessing vape cartridges containing a minor amount of cannabis oil.
The 32-year-case old's arose when Russia's military incursion in Ukraine was causing severe tensions between Moscow and Washington.
The IK-2 prison colony is located in Yavas, a town in the harshly climactic central area of Mordovia.
The most typical sort of jail in Russia is called a "corrective colony," denoted by the acronym IK.
Over 800 prisoners live in dormitories at the IK-2, according to Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service.
The IK-17 colony, where Paul Whelan, a retired US Marine, is currently serving a 16-year term after being found guilty of spying, is also located near Mordovia.
His family alleges that he suffered abuse and sleep deprivation there.
Russian prisons are infamous for their harsh treatment of prisoners, filthy surroundings, and lack of access to quality healthcare.
Compared to detention facilities, conditions in penal colonies are significantly harsher.
According to activists, abuse and torture are pervasive in Russia's extensive prison system, which replaced the infamous Gulag system of the Stalin era. With nearly 520,000 prisoners under its control, Russia's prison system has one of the highest incarceration rates in Europe. Because prisoners must perform labor, the majority of prison facilities are referred to as penal colonies.
Many of the tactics used in these institutions were adopted from the Soviet Union's extensive system of forced labor camps known as the gulags. Alexei Navalny, a politician from the opposition in Russia, provided a depressing image of life at Penal Colony No. 2. According to his spokeswoman, Navalny was sent to a high-security institution in June.
According to media investigations, detainees at these facilities are abused. According to the chairman of the Committee Against Torture, detention facilities have reported approximately 4,000 fatalities.
During her off-season from the Phoenix Mercury, Griner, a two-time gold medalist in basketball at the Olympics and a Women's NBA champion, had traveled to Russia to play for the professional Yekaterinburg squad.
She admitted responsibility but maintained that she had no desire to breach the law or use the prohibited narcotic in Russia.
Griner said that she never failed a drug test and that a US doctor had given her the go-ahead to use medicinal cannabis to treat the pain from her numerous injuries.
Brittney Griner had a reason to be in Russia.
Griner, a two-time gold medalist at the Olympics, spent the WNBA summer playing with the UMMC Ekaterinburg squad based in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
She referred to Yekaterinburg as her "second home" during the Moscow trial, which the United States has termed a fraud.
She claimed that the camaraderie she experienced there with her colleagues and the fervor of her supporters, particularly the young girls who would gather outside the team's locker rooms to welcome her, moved her. That is the reason I kept returning, she remarked.
Which drugs traveled to Russia with Brittney Griner?
The Phoenix Mercury player was arrested in February for possessing vape cartridges containing less than a gram of cannabis oil, and in July he admitted to bringing the cartridges into Russia, which is against the law. The 0.702 grams of marijuana that were discovered in her luggage after she landed at a Moscow airport, according to the prosecution, was a "substantial" amount.
Griner said through an interpreter that she never intended to violate Russian law at her appeal hearing in October. She acknowledged the error and apologized through a video link.
However, the court denied her request, allowing for her transportation to a penitentiary colony.
Earlier in the trial, Griner stated in her testimony that she uses cannabis oil in the United States to treat chronic pain brought on by injuries, but that she was aware that bringing cannabis into Russia was prohibited. She claimed she flew to Russia despite U.S. State Department travel advisories because she did not want to let her Russian team down. She claimed she had hurriedly packed for Moscow without realizing the cartridges were in her luggage.
What are the drug laws in Russia?
Griner's punishment may have been unusually severe in some other nations, but it is consistent with Russia's severe drug laws.
Griner was found guilty of violating article 2291(2)(c) of the Russian penal code, which forbids smuggling drugs in a "significant amount," which is aggressively defined, and carries "a minimum sentence of five to ten years 'deprivation of freedom' along with the fine," according to William E. Butler, a specialist in Russian law at Penn State University. Sentences with "The higher end of the spectrum seems to be common"
Butler said that nine years in prison "may seem like a draconian punishment for cannabis use too many in the U.S." However, in Russia, this crime is commonplace.
Critics of Russia's drug laws claim that the nation enforces harsh penalties in violation of human rights. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has faced a significant illicit drug problem, with greater rates of drug addiction and drug-related death than its neighbors in Europe.