Day 1273 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - June 22, 2022 - Visits by the US, UK

Paul was fortunate to have two Embassy visits last week.  The UK Embassy staff visited him on Tuesday, June 14.  The US Embassy staff visited him on Friday, the 17th.  The US staff gave us an update yesterday on how Paul is faring as a Russian political prisoner.

He appears to be well.  They noted that he is visibly more gaunt than the last time they saw him.  Paul has lost about 20% of his weight since his arrest in December 2018.  It's hard to picture what that looks like since there are no photos of Paul since 2020.  But he is surviving.

By all accounts, the change in wardens - Warden Denisov was arrested on corruption charges last fall - has been an improvement.  Warden Nazarov appears to be concerned about Paul's condition as well as on the prison staff more closely following the prison rules.  This should mean that Paul's living conditions are less perilous if not more healthy.

That may not be the blessing it seems.  Paul is resilient and determined to survive, not to let the bastards break him.  He has described in letters to our parents how he uses his Marine Corps POW training - SERE - to get through the days.  His supporters' GoFundMe contributions have ensured that we can send him vitamin-filled foods to supplement the prison food.  Paul's spent his own money from his pre-detention life to get dental care and close off that potential health risk.

Unfortunately for the wrongful detainee, the US government doesn't act if you're healthy.  It's not enough that you've been subjected to torture, as Paul was with solitary confinement last year.  It's not enough to suffer years of human rights violations.  It's not enough that you may not be mentally healthy after 1,270 days wrongfully detained by a hostile foreign government.  It's frankly not enough that the US government agrees that you've been denied justice, due process, and your freedom.

That is not to say the US government doesn't care.  Secretary of State Blinken is apparently going to have a phone call with families of wrongfully detained Americans today [6/22/2022].  I'm sure we'll hear more words of concern and intent to advocate for the freedom of our loved ones.

But it's just words.  The Department of Justice lawyers will debate their philosophies and go home to their families while Paul languishes far from his.  Political operatives will keep drinking their tea, waiting to read the leaves about what the impact of taking an action might be.  Thoughts were had, prayers were given, hands were wrung.  Detained Americans will suffer.

It's awful on a micro-level for each wrongful detainee and their family.  The US Embassy in Russia will be down to one American Citizens Services staff person in a few days, from 3.  One person, to support wrongful detainees like Paul and Brittney Griner, as well as more than 20 other Americans who have misadventured for other reasons in Russia.  It is no wonder when phone calls don't happen as promised.  It is no wonder Paul feels left behind.

On a macro level, the US is no further on in deterring detentions than it was on December 28, 2018.  This inaction is not only not helping current detainees, it is practically ensuring there will be more.  This aimlessness is unhelpful because each additional detainee only seems to further complicate trying to solve the overall problem.

Unfortunately, the US government has reached a dead end on Paul's wrongful detention.  Paul deserves something beyond words.  Our family has taken the actions we can to help Paul.  It is time for the US government to do the same.