WNBA star Brittney Griner is being held in Russia after being arrested at Moscow airport for drug charges has become a major story this year.
She is not actually the only American woman who is currently imprisoned in Russia though. American schoolteacher, Sarah Krivanek, has also been receiving visits from Russian human rights activist Yekaterina Kalugina.
The 46-year-old Krivanek is living in a pink painted cell at Correctional Colony No.1 outside of Moscow, the Russian capital. She is with six other women.
She was arrested in November 2021 after a domestic dispute involving her Russian romantic partner Mikhail Karavaev.
“She hugged me and burst into tears,” Kalugina says of her encounter at the jail with Krivanek. “She said, ‘How have I ended up in here? It’s all untrue. I’m a good person.'”
Krivanek says that her boyfriend was drunk when he hit her in the face on November 11.
“She defended herself by grabbing a kitchen knife and lashing out at him, catching him on the nose,” Kalugina says, adding that Karavaev called the police, who then arrested Krivanek for giving him “little more than a scratch”.
The American woman has been charged with ‘intention to inflict slight bodily harm’ and ‘threatening to kill or do grievous bodily harm’.
She told the court that she was defending herself having been kicked and punched by Karavaev. Her injuries were confirmed by medical experts.
She was released on bail and told not to leave Russia. The US Embassy in Moscow told her that she should leave Russia as soon as possible.
Although her Russian visa had expired, Krivanek believed she could leave Russia because she was told expired visas would be automatically extended due to the pandemic, Kalugina said.
On December 15, Krivanek was escorted to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport by an American diplomat.
But Krivanek‘s US-bound plane took off without her. At customs, Russian authorities confiscated her passport, and she was later arrested before she was able to board, charged with violating the terms of her bail.