Paul was able to call our parents yesterday [11/25/2021] on Thanksgiving. Paul said that he had been barred from making phone calls because of complaints he'd made about his treatment.
We are grateful that, once again, Ambassador John Sullivan made the long trek out to Mordovia to visit Paul [11/23/2021]. The Ambassador and US Embassy consular staff were out there just 2 months ago [9/21/2021]. Our gratitude is second only to Paul's for the advocacy and care that the US Embassy continues to provide him during his wrongful detention by the Russian government. They ensure his prison account has money in it, since we do not have a Russian bank account from which to transfer money to him, and they top up his phone card so that, when he's allowed to call our parents, he is able to. This despite an ever-dwindling ability by the US Embassy in Moscow to help Americans in Russia due to Russian government denial of visas and prohibition of hiring local, Russian workers. Embassy staff said Paul looked healthy and well.
[Tweet - US Embassy, 11/23/2021: https://twitter.com/USEmbRuPress/status/1463144262611177477 ]
[US Embassy 11/19/2021 Notice: Limited Ability to Provide Consular Services ]
Some things don't change, though. Despite the recent arrest of their leader, prison staff told the Ambassador that Paul's inability to call home had to do with "technical infrastructure", rather than due to their normal pattern of retaliation. Paul said the new warden at IK-17 has also banned the receipt of books from outside the prison. Since prisoners are allowed books but, as far as I know, no labor colony is a book publisher, it's unclear how prisoners will be able to acquire books.
Paul also shared a message, which he had our parents record during their phone call:
After the warden threatened me with retaliation for reporting violations of Russian law and human rights abuses, he was arrested for multiple charges of corruption. A senior prison officer, currently suspended, has been disciplined for his conduct towards me. The warden was punished for trying to cover up the incident. Corruption here knows no bounds. Concerns include theft, extortion, retaliation, fabricated disciplinary charges, blocking lawyer and consular access, obstructing legal processes, fabricated documents, discrimination as well as rats in the building. I've requested investigations by the general prosecutor and the special investigative committee of the Russian Federation into corruption taking place here on an all too common basis.
Paul may not have meant to, but he is obviously describing more of Russian officialdom than just his labor colony's staff. We will watch to see if the prosecutor or investigative committee take any action. In the meantime, we remain thankful for efforts like that by his lawyer, Olga Karlova. It was at her instigation that the prison monitoring service will once again visit IK-17 and try to solve such things as why the prison denies Paul's ability to phone his lawyers.
Thank you for continuing to follow Paul's case. It is hard to believe he will soon have been in Russian custody for 3 years.