Flora, the golden retriever that meant so much to Paul, has died aged 15. I'm not sure this is newsworthy. But many of you have been along on this story for the last 56 months so I thought you might want to know, if only to file away for the future. Paul wished Flora a happy birthday from the degrading aquariums in Russian courtrooms and she made some of your news stories. Members of Congress name checked her in their words recorded in the Congressional Record. Flora was important to our family and important to Paul's morale. She was the third Golden Retriever that Paul had helped our parents to adopt in succession and he cared for Flora as much as for anyone else in the world. It is another hard blow for him to have to absorb, another part of his life stolen from him by the Kremlin, which has already taken his job, his home, and his freedom.
In the early days, we printed off photos of Flora and included those in mail delivered by the US Embassy to Paul in Lefortovo. Now all Paul will have left are those photos and memories of Flora's life. I think a lot about Paul's morale and his ability to survive for another 11 1/2 years. How does a person do that when everything they had or every person or creature they loved is lost?
It's why I'm so grateful for the advocacy of US government officials as well as that of friends and supporters. Even the people who don't know him but send him a letter or a card. As Representative Haley Stevens said after mentioning Flora, "If Paul is watching, he knows we are praying for him, we are rooting for him, and we will not stop fighting for him." We can't allow the Kremlin to steal his hope for freedom as well.