A Look Inside the Lockup Where Brittney Griner Has Been Held

The detention facility simply exterior Moscow the place Brittney Griner, the American basketball star, has been held is a former orphanage rebuilt a decade in the past to accommodate ladies jailed earlier than trial and, individually, ladies serving their jail sentences.

Its artificially lit, grey painted halls and grim tall partitions befit its bureaucratic title: Correctional Colony No. 1, or IK-1.

Hundreds of Russian ladies have handed via it, together with at the very least one different well-known foreigner: Naama Issachar, the Israeli-American arrested in April 2019 when the Russian police mentioned they’d discovered a 3rd of an oz of marijuana in her baggage as she was connecting at a Moscow airport.

Ms. Issachar was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail on drug possession and smuggling costs earlier than President Vladimir V. Putin pardoned her, 10 months after she was first arrested, as she turned a political pawn within the advanced relationship between Russia and Israel.

In jail, Ms. Issachar instructed her mom: “The clouds in Moscow are fairly.”

It was all she might see of the skin world.

Now it’s Ms. Griner, additionally held on drug costs, who’s a pawn — American officers name her a hostage of the Kremlin — however the geopolitics at stake, amid the battle in Ukraine and Mr. Putin’s showdown with the West, are much more fraught.

In a phone interview from Israel, Ms. Issachar’s mom, Yaffa Issachar, mentioned that her daughter had cried when she heard about Ms. Griner’s case, telling her: “I do know what she’s going via now.”

The mom mentioned that Ms. Issachar had been handled comparatively nicely by her cellmates, however that she feared that Ms. Griner, as a homosexual lady, may very well be handled worse due to Russia’s conservative attitudes and restrictive legal guidelines surrounding homosexuality.

Yaffa Issachar mentioned her daughter had been moved via three Russian detention amenities, together with three months within the one the place Ms. Griner is predicted to remain via the length of her trial, which began on Friday. It’s within the village of Novoye Grishino, a 50-mile drive from central Moscow.

The Russian authorities haven’t disclosed Ms. Griner’s whereabouts. The New York Instances was capable of establish the jail from {a photograph} printed on-line by a customer, and the situation was confirmed by an individual accustomed to the case. Ms. Griner has been held within the pretrial detention middle of the power, which additionally features a bigger penal colony for girls serving out their sentences, with its personal stitching manufacturing facility and Russian Orthodox church.

Video footage of the jail accessible on-line reveals tall, grey partitions, previous jail bars and a rusty monument to Lenin within the courtyard. Ms. Issachar, who was allowed to go to her daughter twice a month, additionally remembers the Lenin monument — together with the din of barking jail canine that, she mentioned, had been being educated within the yard.

For Ms. Griner, day by day within the facility seems to be just about the identical, mentioned Yekaterina Kalugina, a journalist and member of a public jail monitoring group who has visited Ms. Griner within the jail.

The inmates get up, have breakfast of their cell — normally some fundamental meals — after which go for a stroll within the jail’s courtyard, which is roofed by a internet. The remainder of the day is full of studying books — Ms. Griner has been studying Dostoyevsky in translation, as an illustration — and watching tv, although the entire channels are in Russian, Ms. Kalugina mentioned.

The cell has a separate non-public washroom, she mentioned, one thing of a novelty for Russian prisons. Inmates can order meals on-line and use a fridge within the cell for groceries. They’re allowed to take a bathe solely twice per week.

Ms. Issachar mentioned it will take so long as 4 hours to finish the paperwork to enter the jail, with the entire meals she was bringing in painstakingly inspected — right down to the tea baggage, which needed to be lower open, their contents emptied right into a plastic bag.

She might see her daughter solely via glass, and discuss to her solely via a phone. She mentioned that her daughter had been allowed weekly visits by a rabbi, who would go letters between them; underneath jail rules, the rabbi was allowed to be in the identical room because the inmate.

The isolation for her daughter was extreme, Ms. Ishaffar mentioned. “Mommy, the autumn began,” she recalled her daughter telling her at one level. “I see the leaves coming down.”

Ms. Ishaffar prompt that Ms. Griner’s household discover a priest who might go to her.

“There may be someone watching them,” she mentioned, “however at the very least it’s a human she will be able to discuss to.”

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting.

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