(CNN) -- United states of america women'southward basketball star Brittney Griner is being transferred to a Russian penal colony, where conditions are often tough and take drawn concern from international watchdogs.
Russia'southward infamous penal colonies are unlike conventional incarceration in the Westward. Hither's what you need to know.
Where has Griner been sent?
Griner's attorneys said they didn't immediately know exactly where her final destination volition be. That is not unusual: the procedure of taking a person to a penal colony is conducted in secrecy in Russia, with relatives and lawyers ofttimes unaware of where a prisoner is being sent for several days, according to Amnesty International.
Final month, Griner lost her appeal against a 9-year drug sentence. She was detained in February and bedevilled in August of deliberately smuggling drugs into Russia.
She has repeatedly apologized for bringing a small corporeality of cannabis into the country, where she played basketball game in the off-flavor.
"Our primary concern continues to be BG's health and well-being," her agent Lindsay Colas said. "As we piece of work through this very hard stage of not knowing exactly where BG is or how she is doing, we enquire for the public's back up in continuing to write messages and express their love and intendance for her."
Griner'south detention has raised concerns that she is being used as a political pawn in Russian federation'due south war confronting Ukraine.
What is a penal colony?
The vast majority of Russia's prisons are in fact penal colonies, where inmates are housed in barracks instead of cells and are often put to piece of work, according to a written report by Poland-based think tank the Eye for Eastern Studies (OSW).
More than 800 such facilities existed beyond Russia as of 2019, the organisation said.
Nigh were congenital during the Soviet Marriage and have been compared by think tanks and human rights organizations to Soviet-era gulags -- tough prison camps that expanded across the region during Joseph Stalin's dominion in the mid-20th century.
Russia houses nearly one-half a million prisoners across all its incarceration facilities, 1 of the highest rates in Europe, according to the Globe Prison house Brief -- though numbers have declined in recent years, in dissimilarity to most parts of the globe.
The level of supervision and restrictions placed on inmates today depends on what kind of facility they are sentenced to, and not all crave labor.
Merely a number of high-contour dissidents, activists and strange nationals who have been sent to strict colonies accept described harrowing and difficult experiences.
What are conditions like?
Inmates are oftentimes taken vast distances across the country, and journeys to colonies are dangerous and can last as long as 1 calendar month, according to a report by Amnesty International.
The watchdog said those journeys often have place in cramped train carriages. And inmates often arrive in facilities containing poor and aging infrastructure and suffering from overcrowding, the OSW found.
"Despite several attempts to reform the prison house system in Russia, they nonetheless resemble the Soviet Gulag: homo rights violations and torture are common," the OSW said.
One former inmate, Konstantin Kotov, served what he said were ii miserable sentences -- the get-go for iv months, the second for six months -- in Penal Colony No. ii outside Moscow for breaking Russian anti-protest laws.
He was last released in December 2020, and concluding yr told CNN most the experience for prisoners.
"From the first minutes you lot are here you are experiencing mental and moral pressure level," he told CNN.
"You are forced to do things that yous would never do in normal life. You are forbidden to talk with other convicts. They strength you to learn the listing of names of the employees. You are on your feet all day, from six a.m. to 10 p.m. You lot are not allowed to sit down down. They do not allow you to read, they practise not allow you to write a letter. Information technology tin can last 2 weeks, it can final three weeks."
Kotov explained prisoners sleep in banter rooms in atomic number 26 bunk beds. About fifty to 60 men slept in his room, he said, each with only a pocket-sized amount of living space.
"You get up at 6 in the morning, yous go out to the courtyard nearby and listen to the national anthem of Russia -- every day the canticle of the Russian Federation," he said.
"You lot cannot write, y'all cannot read. For instance, I watched TV almost all day, Russian federal channels. This is torture by TV."
What have other high-profile inmates said?
Griner is not the beginning well-known effigy to be sent to a penal colony. Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was able to offer his initial impressions later on arriving at a facility final yr, on a postal service on his official Instagram account.
"I had no idea that information technology was possible to arrange a real concentration camp 100km from Moscow," Navalny said, adding his head had been shaven.
"Video cameras are everywhere, everyone is watched and at the slightest violation they make a written report. I think someone upstairs read Orwell's '1984,'" Navalny continued, in a reference to the archetype dystopian novel.
Members of the activist fine art group Pussy Riot have also been sentenced to penal colonies. "This is not a building with cells. This looks like a strange village, similar a Gulag labor camp," member Maria Alyokhina told Reuters last week.
"Information technology actually is a labor camp because past law all the prisoners should piece of work. The quite cynical matter nigh this work is that prisoners usually sew police force uniforms and uniforms for the Russian army, almost without bacon."
The colony was divided between a factory surface area where the prisoners made garments and gloves and a "living zone" where Alyokhina said 80 women lived in ane room with only three toilets and no hot water.
Another member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, went on a hunger strike in 2013 to protest existence returned to Penal Colony No. 14 in the Mordovia region.
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Visitor. All rights reserved.
Related: Brittney Griner Transferred to Russian Prison house Labor Camp