Brittney Griner Spent Thanksgiving in a Russian Penal Colony

Dr. Munr Kazmir
6 min readNov 29, 2022

The American WNBA star and Olympian remains a political prisoner.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — MAY 11: Brittney Griner and Kevin McClatchey accpet awards during the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Hilton San Francisco — Union Square on May 11, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by John Medina/WireImage)

In happier days, Brittney Griner was a basketball star, Olympic champion, and the darling of Hollywood.

Between practicing with her teammates in the WNBA, training with coaches, and attending gala events, Brittney Griner spent time with her family, including her wife, Cherelle Griner.

The couple married in 2019 and were still practically newlyweds when Brittney Griner’s life took a very unexpected and tragic turn.

Before February 2022, Brittney Griner had begun spending time in Russia playing and training with a professional Russian women’s basketball team.

Like so many other expatriates and Americans living and working abroad, Griner’s time in Russia should have been fruitful and mutually beneficial. Russian professional basketball teams would have benefitted from Griner’s perspective and experience; Griner would have left the country with more rubles and Russian friends than she had when first arriving.

Only February 2022 was the month Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to make good on his long-term plans to forcibly annex Ukraine. The United States did quite a bit more than immediately condemn the invasion in the strongest possible terms and move to ignite a global sanctions campaign.

The Biden Administration — outspokenly, and in the face of great criticism and skepticism from the international press and other world leaders — insisted for weeks leading up to Moscow’s ultimate invasion of Ukraine that Putin was moving military forces into position for imminent attack.

The satellite imagery was hard to ignore; everything the Russian army was doing in the way of staging was visible to the countless number of government and corporate-owned satellites encircling the globe.

Nevertheless, Putin hotly denied the charge, openly mocking Biden and insisting Russian troop movements near the Ukraine border were merely regularly scheduled training exercises.

Even Ukraine was extremely skeptical about President Biden’s warning of an imminent invasion.