Sarah Krivanek Breaks Her Silence with Letter Sent from Russian Prison: 'The Road Has Been Very Hard'

·5 min read
Sarah Krivanek
Sarah Krivanek

Sarah Krivanek Facebook

In a letter written from a Russian prison, American citizen Sarah Krivanek says "the road has been very hard" since she first landed in legal trouble in Nov. 2021.

"My health has grown worse. There are no vitamins here and no good medical care," Krivanek writes from a penal colony in Skopin, Russia.

Krivanek is serving a one-year, three-month sentence in connection with assault charges that stemmed from a Nov. 2021 domestic dispute involving a Russian man named Mikhail Karavaev.

After indicating in court that she was defending herself in the incident, Krivanek was released on bail. But while trying to flee Russia on Dec. 15, 2021, Krivanek was arrested at a Moscow airport before she was able to board her U.S.-bound plane.

RELATED: 'Forgotten' American Woman Jailed in Russia with Brittney Griner Tried to Flee with U.S. Help Before Arrest

"I have absolutely nothing!" Krivanek writes in the letter, which was exclusively obtained by PEOPLE. The silence-breaking correspondence was received Thursday morning by a Russian contact who had reached out on behalf of a family friend.

Krivanek was provided with three blank pieces of paper to handwrite a reply to the Russian contact. She chose to only write on one piece of paper, saving the other two so that she could write additional letters down the road.

Sarah Krivanek
Sarah Krivanek

Sarah Krivanek Facebook Sarah Krivanek

A Russian lawyer who represented Krivanek in her 2021 assault case tells PEOPLE that her client "desperately needs" financial help to get by for the remainder of her time behind bars.

"Conditions there are awful, and the inmates rely on people to send them supplies," attorney Svetlana Gorbacheva says. "With no money she's in a worse situation than any of the inmates. And now it's winter; it's already cold and she won't have any warm clothes."

"Please order fruit, vegetables, sour milk products, sugar, coffee, tea, shampoo, conditioner, juice, washing powder, meat, eggs and cigarettes," which are used for currency in prisons, Krivanek writes.

PEOPLE shared Krivanek's letter with her close friend, who is spreading the word to loved ones.

RELATED: How Sarah Krivanek Differs from Brittney Griner — and What It Means to Be 'Wrongfully Detained' in Russia

Gorbacheva said she's spoken by phone with her client twice in the past three weeks. Krivanek sobbed on one of the calls, the lawyer says.

"Her health is bad," the attorney tells PEOPLE. "She's in pain with her kidneys." (A relative claims that Krivanek suffers from kidney failure that is life-threatening if not properly treated.)

Sarah Krivanek
Sarah Krivanek

Sarah Krivanek Facebook

Gorbacheva believes that Krivanek's sentence is "unjust" and that she'll be deported from Russia upon her release, which will come in November, Krivanek believes, according to her letter.

"I want to come home to you all. And when I get home, I will tell you everything. I can't do that in a letter," she writes.

RELATED: Sarah Krivanek Was 'Desperate' to Leave Russia Before She Was Arrested, Says Family Member

When she was arrested in December, Krivanek carried with her a document that showed she received a $200 repatriation loan from the U.S. government to cover expenses on her journey to the U.S. She also reportedly had a diplomatic escort to the airport.

A U.S. State Department official confirmed the December arrest of an American citizen in Moscow and told PEOPLE in early August, "We take our role in assisting U.S. citizens abroad seriously and are monitoring the situation."

Anita Martinez, an American friend of Krivanek who wrote to President Joe Biden begging for help, said last month that a U.S. official told her the State Department is "very concerned" and "doing everything they can to ensure her well-being."

RELATED: Sarah Krivanek's Friend Writes to President Biden Begging for Him to Help the American Woman Jailed in Russia

But Krivanek's letter indicates she's not heard from anyone representing the U.S. government, whose relations with Russia have been increasingly strained since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine in February.

"I trust in God that someone from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow will come out to see me," Krivanek now writes.

According to Gorbacheva, Krivanek has not been contacted by any U.S. officials since her airport arrest. "They abandoned her," the attorney says. "I don't know why."

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Sarah Krivanek
Sarah Krivanek

Sarah Krivanek Facebook

Responding to a request for comment on Martinez's account of her communications about Krivanek, a State Department official told PEOPLE in late August they were monitoring the situation.

RELATED: State Department Officials Are 'Very Concerned' About American Woman Jailed in Russia, Her Friend Says

"We continue to urge that Russian authorities allow consistent, timely consular access to all U.S. citizen detainees in Russia in line with its legal obligations and allow us to provide consular services for U.S. citizens detained in Russia," a State Department spokesperson told PEOPLE Friday. "Our requests for access are consistently delayed or denied. We also continue to press for fair and transparent treatment for all U.S. citizen detainees in Russia."

Citing privacy considerations, the spokesperson declined to share anything further about Krivanek's circumstances or any efforts to assist her.

"Tell everyone that I am always with them, and I never stop thinking about you all. You are in my heart," Krivanek writes toward the end of her note. "With God's help I shall soon be home! I send you all hugs and kisses!"