Day 824 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - March 31, 2021 - spring visitors to Paul Whelan

As Spring arrives in Mordovia, Paul looks for visitors.  We are grateful for the Canadian Ambassador's visit to the prison camp, with the Vice-Consul, on Paul's 51st birthday on March 5th.  The visit meant a lot to him and it was the first in-person consular support he'd had in nearly 6 months.  Not surprisingly, the Russian Federation has placed Paul about as far away from help as it can.  It's no small feat for any Embassy staff to make the 8-hour trek to the labor colony and requires a security escort.
Ambassador Alison LeClaire brought mail for Paul, including a letter from Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau.  Paul was able to share with the Ambassador his current state of health and about life in the camp.  He had been sick at the beginning of the year but was grateful for the supply of medical masks that the Canadian Embassy had brought in a package - one of only four packages that Paul can receive in a year.  Ambassador LeClaire also spoke with the warden about a number of issues - restrictions on Paul's ability to use a phone, a COVID test Paul had been given with result unknown, the continued waking at night every two hours, etc. - that remain unresolved.
Paul has been able to phone our parents for short calls (15 minutes each) but continues to struggle to reach Embassy staff by phone as the Russian prison is restricting the time of the calls to the evening, and only will allow one Embassy number to be phoned. Likewise, Paul is allowed to call his parents, but no other family or friends. Other prisoners do not face the same restrictions.

Paul has not received [as of 3/31] the letter from Prime Minister Trudeau, nor any mail at all since February 27th. In a call to our parents, Paul mentioned that he had repeatedly asked for his mail but prison officials say there is a mail backlog.  We hope that when Paul is finally able to read the letter, Prime Minister Trudeau's words give him hope and courage in this ordeal.
We are hopeful that other requests made by the US, Irish, and UK Embassies to visit Paul this Spring will be granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  These connections remain the most reliable way of knowing how Paul is and what conditions in his labor camp are like. 
Paul has now been wrongfully, arbitrarily detained by the Russian Federation for 824 days (3/31).  We continue to look forward to government officials in Washington D.C., Ottawa, London, and Dublin taking as active an interest in Paul's case as their representatives in Moscow have done.