February 19, 2024, 14:22

“Letters to a Free Crimea” initiative to support political prisoners caught in the Kremlin’s crackdowns launches in Ukraine

Starting from February 19 to May 19, 2024, the Letters to a Free Crimea initiative will kick off in Ukraine and beyond, rallying Ukrainians and global citizens to pen letters of solidarity to Crimean political prisoners unlawfully held by Russia.

This initiative was discussed during a press briefing at the Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform. 

Anna Sytnikova, Chief Consultant of the Crimean Platform Support Service at the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, revealed that the Mission is currently monitoring 208 Crimean political detainees. 

The full list of detainees can be accessed on the Mission’s website, its official social media pages, and the ZMINA website.

To facilitate letter writing, designated locations will be provided, including facilities at PEN Ukraine, the Ministry of Reintegration, and the Crimean House. Moreover, letters can be sent via electronic mail or physical post to the ZMINA mailbox. International supporters will have the option to mail letters directly to Russia.

Anna Sytnikova highlighted the specific guidelines for composing letters, which will be outlined in detail in the accompanying instructions.

“The key aspect to understand is the presence of prison censorship, necessitating that letters be written in Russian, unfortunately. Additionally, while political topics should be approached cautiously, individuals can freely discuss daily experiences and sentiments they wish to share with the recipient. Sending markers, drawings, or any other forms of support is encouraged,” she explained.

According to Sytnikova, these letters play a crucial role in ensuring the physical safety of political detainees in their places of confinement.

“These letters hold significant weight as they signal to prison authorities that the detainee is receiving attention from across the globe, whether it be from Germany, America, New Zealand, or Australia. Tragically, last year saw the loss of two political detainees, with 30 others enduring serious conditions. We must advocate for each of our individuals and recognize that if we don’t bring attention to their plight, nobody else will,” she emphasized.

In turn, Viktoria Nesterenko, project manager at the ZMINA Human Rights Center, expanded on the profound impact these letters have, particularly in improving the conditions of political detainees who often face harsh treatment in detention.

Nesterenko stressed the importance of ensuring that the letters reach Ukrainian political detainees, affirming that they will be delivered directly to the recipients this year. She underscored the simplicity of writing letters as a tangible way to support detainees, highlighting their morale-boosting effect. “These letters provide invaluable support to detainees because, despite enduring harsh conditions of detention in both occupied Crimea and Russia, receiving these letters serves as a reminder that the public and society at large haven’t forgotten them. It reaffirms that their resistance prior to imprisonment was not futile. It’s a testament to the fact that both the people in Ukraine and the international community are eagerly awaiting their return home,” she emphasized.

For further details on the list of political detainees and the guidelines for composing and sending letters, please refer to the provided link.

Read more: https://mediacenter.org.ua/news