Day 1792 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - November 24, 2023 - President Biden "Not Giving Up"
As we close in on Paul's 1800th day as a Russian hostage (December 2nd), we appreciate that the White House continues to work on Paul's case. President Biden said, in response to a question from the press pool yesterday, that "we ain't giving up." [YouTube, 11/23/2023] If any of you know who asked that question, please extend to them my family's gratitude. On a day of giving thanks and of family gatherings, it meant a lot for us to be able to tell Paul that people were still engaged in his freedom.
Unfortunately, another year is passing by. Despite the well-intentioned statements from State Department and National Security staff in December 2022, we have not seen a concession and resolution emerge that would bring Paul home.
At the end of the day, we wait for the Kremlin's authorized channel to engage. After all, it is not just Paul who suffers. There are Russians who might be conceded and who might then be home with their families.
We appreciate the time that the US Embassy spends maintaining Paul's connection with the outside world. They have worked hard to get mail to him from friends and supporters in the US. Unfortunately, it is getting literally lost in translation, so mail sent last December has still not reached Paul, even though it has reached IK-17. Ambassador Tracy had a call with our family in mid-November, which gave our parents an opportunity to hear her impressions of how Paul is doing based on her calls and visits to him.
Paul continues to do the best he can. He says the doctors have now left the labor camp, leaving it without medical staff. Russia's slow decomposition is felt keenly in the prisons. Paul says the barracks are unheated and water is not consistently available for drinking or washing. It is hard to imagine the relentless privation.
President Biden's words meant a lot to our family and to Paul, to whom we relayed them. Hopefully they are not just words. Five years as a Russian hostage will be a grim milestone.