In 14 days, Paul will have been wrongfully detained by the Russian Federation for 2 years. We know more now about how he was framed by Ilya Yatsenko, a border guard hoping for a promotion, so Ilya could avoid repaying a debt he owed Paul. How Paul was tried and sentenced without evidence. But that doesn't change the fact that he remains in a Mordovian labor camp as a result of this injustice.
Paul described the camp's current condition to our parents in a recent phone call. The workshop where they make clothes remains practically unheated, at about 40F. The barracks are slightly warmer at 50F. [for contrast, the outdoor temperature in Mordovia is in the 20sF] Despite representations made to prison monitors by IK-17's warden, Paul says that he is still woken up every two hours by guards.
As the rest of the world battles coronavirus, so too does the Russian prison system. The chief state sanitary doctor who oversees Camp IK-17 imposed a special quarantine effective December 10. Prison staff are on a barracks regimen, working two weeks at a time without being able to leave the prison. Paul has indicated that there is some illness in the camp, although the prison has not clarified what it is. The prison has barracks for prisoners and one is now housing the sick. They are not being moved to a prison with medical facilities. The displaced prisoners are being housed in the remaining barracks, leading to overcrowding. While prisoners have masks, they are not always worn correctly and there are no other preventative steps being taken.
We are confident the U.S. government will continue to work on Paul's behalf even as there is a transition to President Biden's administration. President Putin's call for cooperation based on equality and mutual respect gives us hope. Perhaps the State Department will finally be able to have conversations with their Russian peers about Paul's case.
Our elderly parents have each just had their second birthday since Paul was wrongfully detained and are now both in their 80s. Paul has lost two years of Christmases, birthdays, and time spent with our parents in their final years. We hope that a third year will not pass before Paul is free and home.
[Background, from Paul's 11/2020 interview with ABC: https://abcnews.go.com/International/marine-paul-whelan-speaks-russian-prison-abc-news/story?id=74103250 ]
[ONK Visit and prison commitment to end sleep deprivation: https://ofaolain.com/pipermail/freepaulwhelan-updates_ofaolain.com/2020-November/000091.html ]
[IK-17 Quarantine notice (chief doctor may be Galina Mokshanova (Мокшанова Галина Васильевна) : Федеральное казенное учреждение «Исправительная колония №17 УФСИН России по Республике Мордовия» (fsin.gov.ru); Наши врачи (fsin.gov.ru)]
[President Putin Congratulates President-Elect Biden: https://www.interfax.ru/russia/741331 ]