Ruslan Zinin is a real Russian hero, but you won’t find many Russians talking about his heroism or his current plight for the simple reason that they’ve convinced themselves that there is nothing more to be said or done about their country’s dreadful criminal invasion of Ukraine. It is now up to Ukrainians and the “collective West” to stop Putin, whatever the cost. The vast majority of Russians have better things to do, apparently. In the last few days alone, I’ve seen smart Russian friends of mine, people I definitely consider to be among the country’s best and brightest and even (in other circumstances) the most courageous, writing angrily about alleged government bank bailouts in the US and the supposed tendency of US “taxpayers” to vote for conservative politicians, or how they can’t talk about the things that matter to them on social media due to the war (about which they emphatically don’t want to write because enough has been said about it already), or wondering aloud why it took so long for “them” (i.e., the “international community”) to issue an arrest warrant for Putin. ||| TRR
Ruslan Zinin transferred to solitary confinement
Ruslan Zinin’s mother Marina Zinina has reported that on March 21 [her son] was transferred to a solitary confinement cell without explanation.
“They came and took him away, saying, ‘Let’s go to another place.’ They put him in the basement in a solitary confinement cell. […] The conditions are terrible. It’s damp and cold and reeks of sewage, and rats are running around, and there’s nothing in the cell at all, except for a cot. There’s nowhere to store food, nowhere to get water, there’s no kettle, there’s nothing.”
Marina Zinina also said that Ruslan has not received any letters for two weeks, despite the fact that FSIN-Pismo [the Russian penitentiary system’s electronic correspondence service] has been sending people notifications that their letters had been vetted by the censor and handed over to Ruslan.
Solitary confinement is one of two forms of punishment for violating the rules in a pretrial detention center. (The second is a reprimand.) The warden of the pretrial detention center or his deputy can impose these penalties. But before imposing a penalty, the prisoner is given the opportunity to write an explanation about their alleged violation, and they must be notified of the penalty in writing.
Zinin was not charged with violating the rules of the pretrial detention center, and was not informed of any such decisions on the part of the warden.
We consider Zinin’s transfer to solitary confinement to be an escalation of pressure on the prisoner, an attempt to silence him and get him to consent to unfounded accusations of “terrorism.”
A logging truck driver from Ust-Ilimsk (Irkutsk Region), Zinin fired several shots from a sawn-off shotgun at the local military commissar in the midst of the mobilization announced in September of last year. He was incited to do this by the draft notice that had arrived for his brother. The military commissar survived the attack.
In early March, Zinin was charged with committing a “terrorist act” (per Article 205.2.b of the Russian Federal Criminal Code).
Despite the fact that letters are not being handed on to Ruslan at the moment, they remain an important support tool. A large flow of letters shows the wardens at the pretrial detention center that a lot of people are concerned about Ruslan’s plight. An even greater flow of letters and complaints in connection with their non-receipt has repeatedly been shown to be capable of breaking through the information blockade that the authorities impose on political prisoners.
Address for letters and parcels to Ruslan:
Zinin Ruslan Alexandrovich (born 1997) 63 ul. Barrikad, SIZO-1 Irkutsk 664019 Russian Federation
You can send letters electronically from anywhere in the world via the FSIN-Pismo service (subject to payment with a Russian-issued bank card) or the free, volunteer-run resource RosUznik (which allows you to remain anonymous).
❗️ If in the last two weeks FSIN-Pismo has sent you a notification of delivery, write to the service’s support team that your letter was not passed on to Ruslan. (You can say that you found about this in the media.)
You will also find sample complaints about non-receipt of letters on our Telegram channel.
Solidarity Zone has been providing comprehensive assistance to Ruslan Zinin and his family.
Source: Solidarity Zone (Facebook), 22 March 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader. People living outside Russia will find it difficult, if not impossible, to use the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s FSIN-Pismo service. It is also probably impossible or nearly impossible to send parcels to Russian detention facilities from abroad. But you can send letters — translated into Russian (if you don’t know a competent translator, you can use a free online translation service such as Google Translate) — to Ruslan Zinin (and many other Russian political prisoners) via RosUznik, as mentioned above. You can also ask me (email@example.com) for assistance and advice in sending letters.