WNBA star Brittney Griner officially received her sentence to serve nine years in a Russian prison late last month. Her sentence came after authorities at a Moscow airport found remnants of cannabis oil in her luggage in February. Since then, her name’s been circulating social media, with critics speaking out about the Russian court’s brutality in their sentence. Depsite the uproar surrounding Brittney Griner’s fate, however, Russian authorities have moved the 32-year-old athlete to a brutal penal colony. Social media, in response, has lit up in anger, worry, and frustration.
“Am I crazy, or does it seem insane that our country or someone hasn’t busted #BrittneyGriner out of jail yet?” one concerned fan wrote on Twitter.
A critic of the U.S. government more harshly wrote, “[Brittney Griner] being transferred to a Russian forced labor camp is an illustration of the failure and ineptitude of the [President of the United States]. She needs to be home yesterday!! The American people are tired of empty platitudes.”
A third Brittney Griner supporter simply demanded, “How is Brittney Griner still not home??!?”
One other Russian critic highlighted the nation’s government’s hypocrisy. They spoke about how officials claimed Griner’s supposed drug use was a “danger” to the Russian people. They wrote, “It’s absolutely shameful what Russia is doing to Brittney Griner. If she’s a danger to Russian society, fine the hell out of her and deport her to the US.”
Critics and Activists Reveal Brutal Conditions Brittney Griner Potentially Faces
Brittney Griner’s prison transfer didn’t become public news in the U.S. until Wednesday. However, Russian authorities reportedly began the transfer to a penal colony as early as Friday. The move, which Griner’s family and fans alike have dreaded, has drawn attention to statements former Russian prisoners previously made about the conditions of the nation’s penal colonies.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who is a member of one of Russia’s leading feminist groups, spoke about “slave-like” conditions while in prison in 2013. She said at the time, “I will not remain silent, resigned to watch as my fellow prisoners collapse under the strain of slavery-like conditions. I demand that the colony administration respect human rights…[and that] we be treated like human beings, not slaves.”
Another prominent Russian figure, Alexei Navalny—who happens to be Vladimir Putin’s staunchest critic—even compared one penal colony to a “friendly concentration camp.”
Navalny said, “Video cameras are everywhere, everyone is watched and at the slightest violation they make a report. I think someone upstairs read Orwell’s 1984 and said: ‘Yeah, cool. Let’s do this. Education through dehumanization.'”
Meanwhile, Brittney Griner’s agent expressed major concern for the basketball player’s health. They said in a statement, “Our primary concern continues to be BG’s health and well-being. As we work through this very difficult phase of not knowing where BG is or how she is doing, we ask for the public’s support in continuing to write letters and express their love and care for her.”