Day 612 - Paul Whelan - Lefortovo Prison Moscow - August 31, 2020 - Nowhere Man
We saw in today's Russian media that US Ambassador John Sullivan has said he is hoping to visit Paul in Mordovia. We hope that his plans are successful, as we still have no official word about Paul's whereabouts. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has so far only confirmed that he left Lefortovo on August 1 to continue his wrongful detention elsewhere.
It has been more than two months since Paul has been able to communicate with anyone - lawyers, consular officials, family. The last letter anyone has received from Paul was dated in June, before his trial ended. If he has arrived at IK-17 as Russian media have indicated, Paul is in a facility that appears to be about 8.5 acres, with nearly 1000 other inmates. We do not know the conditions of Paul's labor camp and can only look at media reports of similar camps in Mordovia like IK-14 for comparison.
One can hardly imagine what it is like for Paul, not speaking the language and no longer having any communication with the outside world. We have attempted to utilize the prison's online tools to send Paul recent family photos but the tools are designed for Russian families with Russian bank accounts. Hopefully letters sent to Paul at the labor camp will soon arrive.
Paul remains on the agenda of U.S. and Russian Federation relations. Ambassador Sullivan was quoted last week as saying Secretary of State Pompeo's deputy, Stephen Biegun, was planning to raise Paul's imprisonment last week during his interactions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Despite Mr. Zherebenkov's eternal optimism that negotiations are underway with Paul in mind, there is no evidence of it. The MFA's spokeswoman Ms. Zakharova noted as much last week.
We hope Deputy Secretary of State Biegun raised Paul's case. It will only be through efforts by diplomats in the U.S. State Department and other government agencies that the ongoing injustice Paul suffers will come to an end. We will continue to work for, and have hope, that that end is coming.
[Ambassador Sullivan hopes to travel to Mordovia: https://tass.ru/proisshestviya/9332893 ]
[An account of camp IK-14: https://www.rferl.org/a/notorious-russian-women-s-prison-hell-tolokonnikova-mordovia-ik-14/29788168.html ]
[Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun: https://eadaily.com/ru/news/2020/08/25/peregovory-lavrova-s-pervym-zamgossekretarya-ssha-proydut-v-zakrytom-rezhime ]
[Zherebenkov speaks of 'positive signals': https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/4468500 ]
[Ambassador Zakharova: https://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4302496 ]