California woman back home after Russian imprisonment

Nico Payne Image
Sunday, December 11, 2022
120922-fresno-russia
EMBED <>More Videos

Fresno County woman back home after Russian imprisonment

FRESNO, Calif. -- A Fresno County woman arrived back home Friday after a harrowing ordeal in a Russian prison.

She was locked up for a year in the same facility where WNBA star Brittney Griner was held.

California native Sarah Krivanek moved to Russia in 2017 to teach English.

When she tried to return home in 2021, she wasn't allowed to do so and was charged with violating the terms of her bail related to a previous domestic violence dispute.

After her incarceration, she was moved to a colony in November of 2022, where she was discovered by a Russian human rights activist who was there to help Brittney Griner.

Anita Martinez met Sarah over 10 years ago and they became friends when they worked together in Fresno.

She says if it wasn't for the attention on Griner's case, Sarah most likely would have died in Russia.

"She went through hell because she had nothing. She had absolutely nothing until we found her months later, and it was only because of People magazine, Juliet Butler, a reporter - she stood by me the whole time. It was through her contacts and her connections," explained Anita.

Anita went above and beyond to help her friend, from contacting the White House to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Sarah did not cross paths with Brittney Griner, but she did write a letter to her last week.

Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time to give it to her.

Now, back at home and working on her recovery, Sarah says she will need time to recover before she is ready to speak out about her experience.

"I feel overwhelmed and exhausted, I'm happy to be home and will be ready to interview soon. For now, I just want to get home, get a shower and relax. I'm not feeling well, so I will need medical attention," Sarah said in a statement to ABC7's sister station KFSN-TV in Fresno..

Sarah says she is also looking forward to eating some Mexican food with Anita now that she is home.