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A California woman is also behind bars in Russia

Sarah Krivanek has been imprisoned since last December. The 46-year-old woman from San Jose, California moved to Russia four years ago to be an English teacher.

PHOENIX — As efforts continue to free Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner from a Russian prison, a woman not in the public spotlight is also behind bars in the country.

Sarah Krivanek has been imprisoned since last December. The 46-year-old woman from San Jose, California moved to Russia four years ago to be an English teacher.

Last year Sarah was beaten by a man she was living with and police got involved, according to Anita Martinez, a friend of Sarah.

“He broke her fingers. She defended herself with a knife and scratched him on the nose with a knife. They arrested her for assault,” Martinez said.

According to Martinez, Krivanek was released to await trial but attempted to leave Russia in December on the advice of the U.S. Embassy that Americans get out before the war.

“I heard her just say ‘no, no,’ and then the phone dropped and a man looked into the phone and then the phone went dead. That’s the last time I’ve talked to her,” Martinez said.

Since then, Martinez’s only connection to her friend is communication with a Russian attorney. That attorney says the man who beat Krivanek has admitted guilt in court and that Sarah may be released from prison by December, Martinez said.

“She’s having health issues with her kidneys. She had some issues here. She’s obviously not getting nutrients or vitamins that she needs,” Martinez said.

This week, former U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson traveled to Moscow to continue pushing for Brittney Griner’s release.

“Because of Brittney’s arrest, it’s allowed my friends and people trying to help Sarah, it’s given her an extra boost because it’s allowed us to give her more attention compared to before, which was nothing,” Martinez said.

12News has reached out to the State Department for an update on Sarah’s status and has not yet received a response.

The State Department was quoted two weeks ago in People Magazine saying that they were monitoring Krivanek’s situation and that they take their role in assisting U.S. citizens abroad very seriously.

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