Главная Инструкции How can I write letters to political prisoners in Russia?

How can I write letters to political prisoners in Russia?

Legal defense during an investigation and in court, sending packages with essentials and produce deliveries — these things really matter. However, one mustn’t underestimate the value and meaning of providing prisoners with moral support. Isolation and uncertainty, psychological — and at times physical — pressure would break anyone’s will. But we have it in our power to support inmates who have been put behind bars in Russian prisons for antiwar resistance.

Postcards and letters are thin, but very important threads that connect prisoners with the outside world. Written communication can help someone find out about what’s happening beyond the prison walls, discuss exciting news and ideas, share stories and feelings, and even learn something new.

Is it possible to write a letter in English?

The new rules of procedure in Russian prisons allow correspondence in any language, but, unfortunately, this does not work in practice. Most often, letters in other languages are simply not allowed through, and if they are, many prisoners will not be able to read them. Even if on the outside a person spoke English, they often lose that skill in prison, because they get no practice.

Then what can I do?

You can ask your friends to translate your letter or use online translators. Machine translations are not very good, but your support for the prisoner will be more important than the literacy of the letter itself.

To make it easier to translate the answer to your letter into English, ask the recipient to write it in block letters.

What to write about in a letter?

In a cell where the only entertainment available is talking to fellow inmates, books, letters, and the occasional TV, it’s interesting to read just about anything.

In the first letter, you should introduce yourself, tell them about yourself and your hobbies, and ask the prisoner about their interests, to make it easier to find common topics for conversation. Tell them about the latest news, your pets, places to walk and travel. You can also describe the country where you live and its cultural practices.

What should I NOT write about?

Do not discuss the materials of the case or any facts related to them in your correspondence. This may harm your recipient, any additional information about the “crime” may add to the charge.

At present, it is not clear what to do regarding discussion of the war in Ukraine in correspondence – in some institutions such letters are easily passed, in some they become a problem for prisoners, or the censor simply does not pass them on.

How does censorship work?

There are no general censorship rules for pre-trial detention centers and penal colonies. Refusing to pass on a letter may be due to the internal rules of the institution, or simply the mood of the censor. The only thing left to do here is try. To increase your chances of getting through, don’t use swear words or strong language.

How to send a letter and get a response?

You can send a letter by regular mail if your country of residence has not restricted postal communication with Russia. It is worth putting paper and a spare envelope into the envelope. Also, the prisoner will need postage stamps to answer, but they can only be bought in Russia. Often they are passed on by relatives or friends.

How to send an email and get a response?

Physical letters from overseas may take months to reach the prisoner, or just get lost on the way. It’s much faster and simpler to send letters through the paid e-service ‘PrisonMail‘.

However, unfortunately, not all institutions are connected to this service.