Day 854 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - April 30, 2021 - Consular Support Cut

As President Biden's term reaches its first 100-day mark, it remains hard to know what to expect.  It is a fraction of the 854 days Paul has spent as a Russian hostage.  Our hopes remain pinned to progress like the potential summit this summer between President Biden and President Putin.

But conditions in Russia are getting worse.  The Russian government has passed a law that prohibits "unfriendly" nations' diplomatic missions from employing Russians.  The Russian government is forcing the US Embassy to let go of all of its Russian staff.  As the Embassy noted today, it will only perform emergency consular services as of May 12.  The US is the first named "unfriendly" nation.  The final list of "unfriendly" nations has not been made public but it is expected to also include the UK and Canada.
We are sorry that Russian citizens will lose their jobs.  We have been grateful to them for their work with US consular services.  Their local knowledge and connections developed over decades provided continuity and behind-the-scenes support to enable the work to happen.  They are irreplaceable.  Literally, in this case, since the Russian government now prohibits it.
This obviously creates concern for our family.  One - and potentially three - of the nations who have been supporting Paul will need to drastically reduce consular support.  The Russian government's termination of its observation of the Open Lands memorandum will make visiting American citizens that much more difficult.  Despite their best intentions, consular staff will have limited options.
The near future for Paul looks grim.  The longer it takes for government relief and aid towards his release, the more Paul will be isolated from support, far from home.  We hope President Biden's second 100 days see some positive action towards effecting Paul's release.
[ Russian law prohibiting hiring of Russians by "unfriendly" nation diplomatic missions: