Grey partitions, books and a Lenin monument: A glance inside the ability the place Griner is detained.


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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 identify: Correctional Colony No. 1, or IK-1.

Hundreds of Russian ladies have handed by means of it, together with at the least one different well-known foreigner: Naama Issachar, the Israeli-American arrested in April 2019 when the Russian police stated that they had 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 prices 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 informed her mom: “The clouds in Moscow are fairly.”

It was all she may see of the skin world.

Now it’s Ms. Griner, additionally held on drug prices, who’s a pawn — American officers name her a hostage of the Kremlin — however the geopolitics at stake, amid the struggle 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, stated that her daughter had cried when she heard about Ms. Griner’s case, telling her: “I do know what she’s going by means of now.”

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

Yaffa Issachar stated her daughter had been moved by means of three Russian detention services, together with three months within the one the place Ms. Griner is predicted to remain by means of 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 in a position to establish the jail from {a photograph} revealed on-line by a customer, and the situation was confirmed by an individual acquainted with the case. Ms. Griner has been held within the pretrial detention heart of the ability, 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 out there 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 stated, have been being skilled within the yard.

For Ms. Griner, daily within the facility appears to be like just about the identical, stated 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 primary meals — after which go for a stroll within the jail’s courtyard, which is roofed by a web. The remainder of the day is stuffed with studying books — Ms. Griner has been studying Dostoyevsky in translation, as an example — and watching tv, although the entire channels are in Russian, Ms. Kalugina stated.

The cell has a separate personal washroom, she stated, 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 every week.

Ms. Issachar stated 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 reduce open, their contents emptied right into a plastic bag.

She may see her daughter solely by means of glass, and discuss to her solely by means of a phone. She stated that her daughter had been allowed weekly visits by a rabbi, who would cross letters between them; beneath jail rules, the rabbi was allowed to be in the identical room because the inmate.

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

Ms. Ishaffar recommended that Ms. Griner’s household discover a priest who may go to her.

“There may be any person watching them,” she stated, “however at the least it’s a human she will discuss to.”

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting.


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