Paul has been a Russian government hostage for 950 days [08/04/2021]. I note that it's the government because they fabricate espionage cases and inflict the same cruelty and injustice on their own citizens. For every Paul Whelan and Karina Tsurkan, there is an Ivan Safronov, Antonina Zimina, and Konstantin Antonets. And the Russian authorities don't stop with the fake espionage cases. They attack the lawyers who get involved in the cases as well. They are investigating Ivan Pavlov, whose Team 29 has shut down because of government harassment, and authorities are trying to take his license to practice law. They shut the law office of one of Paul's lawyers, Mr. Zherebenkov.
We think Paul is still somewhere in Mordovia. But no-one has spoken to him in a month [7/4/2021] so who knows? Not our parents, who had started to get accustomed to the regular phone calls that Paul was finally able to start making after over 18 months as a Russian hostage. Not the US Embassy, which was forced by the Russian government to reduce its consular staff by 75%. First the ongoing fights with the Russian government over visas, and now the Russian government forced them to separate nearly 200 staff who are Russian. The resources to provide consular support for Paul out in the middle of Mordovia have never been thinner. And their success relies on cooperation with Russian prison authorities.
But it is difficult to monitor Paul's health and welfare when the FSIN prison authorities will not respond to any requests for information. The prison has ignored diplomatic notes sent by the US Embassy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and which were, apparently, relayed. They have ignored requests from Paul's lawyers.
Ms. Karlova, Paul's lawyer, has filed a complaint with the head of the prison system accusing the prison staff of negligence. Paul has been in solitary confinement for 30 days so far [?7/5/2021?]. Hopefully they will not tack on another 15 days and Paul will emerge this week.
Last Thursday [7/29/2021], members of Congress once again spoke publicly and passionately about the need for Paul to be released and returned to his family. We are grateful for their continued advocacy. It gives us hope in these dark patches. We hope this advocacy will help to bring Paul's early release.
[Team 29 Shuts Down: 'A Planned Assault Along Many Fronts': Russia's Komanda 29 Shutters, Saying It's Too 'Dangerous' To Continue (rferl.org) ]
[Moscow court decision against Mr. Zherebenkov's firm: Information on case No. 02a-0054/2020 [Case ID: 77RS0032-01-2019-016510-55 ]]
[US Embassy News: Russian Government Actions Impacting U.S. Mission Russia ]
[Russian Federation Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov on the diplomatic visa situation: Antonov said that the State Department is misleading about the situation with the work of diplomatic missions of the Russian Federation and the United States - Politics - TASS
[Ms. Karlova's complaint: Lawyers say Paul Whelan, American national jailed in Russia, hasn’t been heard from in a month — Meduza ]
[US Congressional representatives press conference on House Resolutions: Haley Stevens continues push for Paul Whelan’s release from Russian prison – The Oakland Press ]