Paul was detained by Russian authorities 1,500 days ago today [2/5/2023] It would have been beyond our comprehension on December 31, 2018, when we first learned he'd been arrested, that Paul would still be a Russian prisoner. There are no words to describe his disappointment and our family's continuing frustration that he is not free and home.
The blame lies squarely within the Kremlin. We are grateful that the U.S. government continues to interact with Russians delegated the task of having discussions about Paul. It must be hard to determine what a totalitarian kleptocracy wants. And, of course, we are grateful for the US government's continued support of Paul, to monitor his ongoing survival.
US Embassy staff were able to visit him this week [1/31/2023] and said that he looked well. They also described the first large batch of mail, from the writing campaigns in December, which they handed over to prison staff. Paul did not see the mail but he can now expect a large pile of letters and cards, once they've been opened and translated. He knows he's not forgotten.
Paul probably told them, as he did our parents, about the lack of hot water due to broken plumbing. Prisoners have gone for more than a week now without being able to shower, where buildings are heated into the 50sF and outdoors it is in the 30sF. We know that he's been learning words in Tajik, in order to get along with a large non-Russian segment of the prison population. The prison still treats Paul as an escape risk, so he is woken every two hours, every night, to have his photo taken. It is hard to imagine what this does to a person's mental health and physical well-being. It has been going on since August 2020, when he arrived at IK-17. Years of this sort of human rights abuse are certain to be taking their toll. By all accounts, he is surviving. It is impossible to know what that survival is costing him.
1,500 days is both a milestone and just another day. It is meaningful only for its length. It represents no movement by the Kremlin to release Paul. It represents no improvement in Paul's condition. We watch it flow past like a leaf on a river. Our family continues to hope that someday soon Paul will be free.