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This January, send a letter to a Ukrainian political prisoner of the Kremlin

This January, send a letter to a Ukrainian political prisoner of the Kremlin

Most of us will spend the cozy winter holidays with our family and good food. But there are at least 127 Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin who will spend them inside damp prison walls, with prison grub, thousands of kilometers away from their family, despite having committed no crime, forgotten by the world…

Or are they not forgotten? We can show them that we remember and that the world is watching the Putin regime’s crimes closely. That’s why as part of the #LetMyPeopleGo campaign and to share the warmth of the winter holidays, the Center for Civil Liberties together with Euromaidan Press is launching the traditional 2022 Winter letter marathon for Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin. 

Words have the power to conquer distances and warm the hearts of people in captivity, including at least 127 Ukrainian citizens behind bars in Russia and the occupied Crimea, and about 300 held in the makeshift basement prisoners of Russian-occupied Donbas. They include very different people – businessman Valentyn Vyhivskyi, human rights activist Server Mustafaev, citizen journalist Seyran Saliev, teacher Natalia Shylo, doctor Nataliya Statsenko, musician Valeriy Matiushenko, pensioner Vitaliy Atamanchuk, and many others.

Find the full instructions on writing a letter at LetMyPeopleGo.org.ua.

To avoid your letter being blocked by the prison censors, it’s better to write it in Russian. If you don’t know Russian, no worries! A postcard with simple phrases will also bring great happiness to the unjustly imprisoned people. We have prepared a short guide to some simple phrases you can write in Russian.

Learn Russian with Euromaidan Press: send holiday greetings to the Kremlin’s Ukrainian hostages

This is the 7th year that we are holding this marathon.

Your letters offer more than psychological support to the prisoners. When the prison staff sees that the world is watching, they are less prone to abusing the inmates. So postcards and letters coming from abroad, even if they are not delivered to the prisoners, safeguard them against mistreatment.

How serious is the mistreatment? Find out for yourself by reading our translations of some letters that the prisoners have sent. They were read aloud at a PEN event this autumn.

“There is no greater humiliation than reducing a person to an animal without any rights.” Kremlin hostages share their prison survival strategies

So, writing a letter is one of the simplest but most effective things you can do to support jailed innocent people. And you need not limit yourself to the holidays. There are people in both Russia and Ukraine who can no longer imagine their lives without corresponding with political prisoners. We found them and asked them how one might venture to write a letter for the first time, what you can write to a stranger to offer them real support, and laid out the practicalities of sending letters to Russian prisons. Plus, we asked why they do it:

Words of freedom: why you should send a letter to a political prisoner of the Kremlin

 

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