Day 1966 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - May 16, 2024 - UK Consular visit

Paul Whelan has been held hostage by Russia for 1,966 days [5/16/2024]. Two days ago, he was visited at IK-17 by consular staff from the UK Embassy in Moscow. [5/14/2024] They said he appeared well and his morale seemed positive.

We are glad that they were able to see Paul and, once again, provide first-hand feedback about his physical and mental condition. They brought a map of Canada for Paul, provided by the Canadian Embassy, but the warden refused to allow it to be given to Paul. UK consular staff also pressed the warden to allow Paul to have the books that were delivered to the prison on January 3d, 2024, from a Moscow bookstore and that have been withheld from Paul ever since. His mail also continues to be withheld. This is standard abuse, not new or caused by any specific event.

On May 11, I sent an email to the prison, the ombudsman for Mordovia, and Paul's lawyer about the books and the violation of prison regulations. The prison email address is no longer responsive, the prison website is no longer accessible (perhaps limited to Russia), so we no longer have any way to reach them directly with concerns. It echoes the move of the Public Monitoring Committee of Mordovia off their own website and onto VK, closing off channels of communication. Paul is, unfortunately, even more isolated now.

Sometimes stories slip through that show just how pettily stingy life in the prison is. Paul told our parents that someone had sent eggs for the prisoners, intended as an Easter gift. But the prison warden intercepted them and prisoners had to buy the eggs from the prison commissary. Paul bought one. [dw: Russian Easter was May 5. I'm not sure if this was a candy Easter egg or a chicken's egg, the latter of which have been in short supply in Russia]

We appreciate the effort the UK staff has made and their continued engagement on Paul's behalf. It is not hard to imagine how difficult it is to get the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approval for a trip to the prison. The consular visit is a reminder to Paul, and to the Russian government, that the UK continues to keep an eye on Paul and remains in close communication and coordination with the US on securing his release from this unjust imprisonment.