Day 1348 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - September 4, 2022 - [Paul Whelan] Toil and Trouble

Paul is back in IK-17 after a 2-week stay at the hospital labor camp nearby, IK-21.  He has been experiencing a repetitive stress injury in his arm that he has described to our parents as bursitis or tendonitis.  He's reported it on and off since September 2021.  His elbow has become inflamed repeatedly and he had attempted to treat it by himself, with a sling and some rest.  Other prisoners help him out, carrying his soup bowl at lunch, for example  But after a few days, the warden sent him to IK-21 for medical attention.  He arrived at IK-21 on August 12 and returned to IK-17 on August 26 with his elbow improved.

I mentioned recently that Paul had said all watches were taken from prisoners and wall clocks removed at IK-17.  We still don't know why.  I emailed a prison monitor (Georgy Ivanov) who didn't have any suggestions for a reason.  I saw in this story from Mediazona that prisoners recruited by Russia's mercenary corps Wagner and sent to Ukraine had also had their watches taken.  I thought I'd share, as it's the only answer I've come across.

We saw that Vladimir Denisov, who was the warden when Paul arrived at IK-17 but who was arrested on charges of bribery in November 2021, is going to trial.  Not that IK-17 is terribly different now, despite better leadership.  Corruption continues with a guard who emphasized the "self" in self-medication and took medicine given to him by medical staff that we'd sent to be passed on to Paul.  The rot in the Russian system is generational and passed on as a legacy to be embraced.

Our family was sorry to learn today from the U.S. Embassy's website that Ambassador John Sullivan's last day was September 4.  There is no way to express our gratitude for his support and advocacy on Paul's behalf.  Ambassador Sullivan went to extraordinary lengths in Paul's case, attending hearings and the trial sentencing, going to Lefortovo, and driving out to Mordovia to the labor camp.  His advocacy for Paul was frequent and vocal, both in Moscow and in Washington, D.C.  [UPDATE Tuesday, Sept. 6th - We have since learned that his resignation was due to his wife's grave illness; we were deeply saddened to hear of her death on Monday, September 5, 2022. The Ambassador and his family sacrificed so much on behalf of the United States and its citizens.]

We will be waiting to see who the third Ambassador to Russia since Paul's false arrest will be.  In addition to Ambassadors Huntsman and Sullivan, we have seen a dozen other staff cycle out since December 2018 after their period of service concludes.  As with each departure, our family will try to maintain continuity in supporting Paul while he remains wrongfully detained.  There is no way to know how Ambassador Sullivan's departure may impact the U.S. government's offer to the Russian government for a prisoner exchange.  Hopefully the White House and Senators who have shown such concern about wrongful detentions of Americans will move quickly to fill this important position.  Ambassador Sullivan has set high expectations and I hope his replacement is as active in defense of the rights of Americans in Russia as Ambassador Sullivan was.