A Russian human rights activist talks about the only American woman imprisoned in Russia alongside WNBA star Brittney Greiner.
Yekaterina Kalugina visited a detention center in the Moscow region in April to speak with Grenier, who on Thursday was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug possession. While there, she ran into American teacher Sarah Krivanek, 46.
Kalugina told People that Krivanik was visibly distraught when I spoke to her at Correctional No. 1 outside Moscow. She had been held since December for violating the terms of her bail.
“She hugged me and burst into tears,” she told People. She said, ‘How did I end up here? All this is not true. I’m a good person. “
Krivanik was arrested in November 2021 after an internal feud with Mikhail Karavaev, her romantic partner of the year.
The imprisoned teacher told Kalugina that her boyfriend allegedly beat her, and she, in turn, defended herself with a kitchen knife. She said he called the police after he left the knife “more than a scratch” in his nose.
She was charged with intent to inflict minor bodily harm and threatening to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm.
In court, she alleged that Karavaev beat her the day before the accident, leaving her with cuts and broken fingers. Medical experts confirmed Krivanek’s injuries when she was arrested, Kalujina told People.
Karavaev withdrew his complaint, asserting his mistreatment of her, and released Krivanik on bail, pending trial.
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She agreed in writing that she would not leave Moscow, but after seeking advice from the US Embassy in Moscow, she was told that she had to flee the country immediately, her friend Karavaev reportedly told Kalugina. The embassy argues with people that they knew she was out on bail and say they were not even notified by the Russian authorities of her arrest, noting that Americans who find themselves destitute in foreign countries can get financial assistance to leave.
Krivanik, who entered Russia on a short-term tourist visa in 2017 that she eventually extended, knew her visa had expired but thought it was automatically extended due to the pandemic.
In December, a US diplomat reportedly escorted Krivanik – with Karavaev – to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where she successfully passed passport control, but was subsequently detained for violating her bail conditions. The school teacher was in possession of a letter explaining that she had received a $200 loan from the US government to cover travel expenses to a religious retreat in Kansas, according to Russian media.
“I feel so sorry for this type, a Christian woman who loved Russian culture and Russian children. The woman who forgave and forgave her partner. She was imprisoned six months ago and forgotten,” Kalugina told People. “The court did not take into account that the so-called ‘crime’ was an act of self-defense while being attacked by a much larger offender. Nor that he sustained only minor injuries. It was only a scratch. Nor that he withdraws his accusation, nor that This gentle woman who taught children was not a threat to society.”
She said Krivanik has since been convicted, lost her appeal, and is now imprisoned in a criminal colony in Ryazan, 120 miles southeast of Moscow.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Griner, 31, have argued that they will appeal Thursday, ESPN reports. Greiner was arrested and charged with carrying cannabis-derived e-cigarette cartridges in February – shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine – at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport as she was returning to play basketball for a Russian team he was using. She pleaded guilty on July 7.
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