Day 1133 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - February 3, 2022 - Prison Investigations

Today is Paul's 1,133rd day as a Russian hostage.  We hope each day that we'll be hearing that his freedom has occurred.  Until then he languishes in a Russian labor colony.  But an investigation is underway that might make conditions more bearable, unlawful as Paul's detention is.

As you may remember, Vladimir Denisov, the warden of Paul's labor colony, was arrested on charges of corruption last year.  Corruption among Russian authorities was no surprise and we are glad that Paul continues to speak out about the poor state of IK-17.  Paul and his fellow convicts continue to be mistreated, with arbitrary punishments for following the direction of prison guards.  I was particularly glad to see that President Putin fired Kalashnikov, the head of the prisons, and Yakunin, his deputy, and directed that FSIN comply with the laws governing prisons.  Perhaps a new broom can sweep clean.

[The head of the penal colony was taken into custody on suspicion of taking a bribe ]

[The resignation of the head of the Federal Penitentiary Service was the result of incidents with violence in colonies and pre-trial detention centers ]

[Putin instructed to strengthen supervision over legality in the institutions of the Federal Penitentiary Service ]

It isn't just Paul complaining.  FSIN reports an increase in complaints in 2021.  And not just at IK-17, as the arrest of another warden yesterday [2/3] for embezzlement shows.

[The Federal Penitentiary Service reported an increase in the number of complaints from prisoners ]

[The head of the colony in Novocherkassk was arrested for embezzlement ]

Someone appears to be listening.  Paul told our parents by phone that he had been visited by FSIN Internal Affairs representatives this week [1/31 and 2/1].  It may be because of President Putin's direction - what he says, is - or the Human Rights Commission's report filed at the end of 2021.  Either way, we are grateful that someone is looking into the endemic corruption and human rights abuses in Russian prisons.

[ Eva Merkacheva on IK-17 visit:  Investigator Drymanov and spy Whelan told about life in the colony ]

Perhaps conditions will improve.  They have not yet.  Paul was given a violation last week [1/28] for going to the Administration building, something he's required to do every hour as a "flight risk."  These arbitrary punishments can stack and result in being put in solitary confinement.  We hope the Internal Affairs investigations can crack down on these sorts of illegal actions as well.