Kremlin Prisoners: How to Write a Letter to a Political Prisoner

Дата: 19 February 2024 Автор: Mykola Mirnyj

A political prisoner refers to an individual imprisoned or otherwise restricted in their rights and freedoms on account of their views or actions that are deemed political. Such individuals get arrested on criminal charges, and partly on charges of being involved in political activities. Russia has been arresting Ukrainians since the beginning of its aggression in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine in 2014.

In the Russian-occupied territories, Ukrainian citizens are being persecuted, in particular, for participating in political protests, criticizing the occupation regime, expressing religious views or views that run counter to the position of the occupying country. Some of the well-known political prisoners include Oleg Sentsov, Volodymyr Balukh, Ilmi Umerov, Akhtem Chiygoz, Roman Sushchenko and other Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars whom Ukraine has succeeded in releasing.

Since the outbreak of a full-scale war, Russia has ramped up its repression against Ukrainian citizens. Russian authorities are continuing to illegally detain Ukrainians and file politically motivated charges against them in order to get Ukraine to make concessions.

As of 15 February 2024, according to the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea there are 208 Crimean political prisoners, including 125  Crimean Tatars. The Russian Federation is persecuting Ukrainian citizens for religious reasons (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Cases of Crimean Muslims), journalistic and human rights activities, and anti-war protests. It is also fabricating sabotage, terrorism, extremism and espionage cases. 

Unfortunately, we are unable to send letters to all 208 political prisoners due to the peculiarities and rules of their detention. Therefore, this list of recipients is shorter than the total list of political prisoners. We want as many of your letters as possible to reach their recipients.

  • Abdulganiev Eskender
  • Abdulgaziev Tofik
  • Abdulkadyrov Vladlen
  • Abdullayev Izzet
  • Abdullayev Teymur
  • Abdullayev Uzeir
  • Abdullayev Zavur
  • Abdulvapov Ametkhan
  • Abdurakhmanov Medzhyt
  • Abdurakhmanov Ruslan
  • Abdurazakov Osman
  • Abiltarov Rustem
  • Abkhairov Arsen
  • Abliamitov Medzhyt
  • Abseitov Zevri
  • Adilov Bilal
  • Aivazov Raim
  • Akhtemov Asan
  • Akhtemov Aziz
  • Aliiev Muslim
  • Aliiev Renat
  • Alimov Refat
  • Ametov Enver
  • Ametov Ernes
  • Arifmemetov Osman
  • Asanov Ayder
  • Asanov Marlen (Suleyman)
  • Asanov Ruslan
  • Audzhi Eskender
  • Babych Oleksandr
  • Barannyk Kyrylo
  • Bazarov Farhod
  • Bekirov Akim
  • Bekirov Dzhebbar
  • Bekirov Edem
  • Bekirov Inver
  • Bekirov Remzi
  • Bektemirov Vadym
  • Bessarabov Oleksii
  • Bielialov Memet
  • Bohdanov Oleh
  • Danylovych Iryna
  • Davydenko Konstantyn
  • Dolhopolov Dmytro
  • Dovhopola Halyna
  • Dovhopolyi Mamed
  • Dudka Volodymyr
  • Dzhapparov Aider
  • Dzhelyal Nariman
  • Dzhemadenov Emil
  • Eiupov Azamat
  • Emiruseinov Rustem
  • Faizullaiev Aziz
  • Fedorov Oleh (Ali)
  • Fevziev Raif
  • Filatov Serhii
  • Garcia Calatayud Mariano
  • Hafarov Diliaver
  • Haziiev Servet
  • Heidt Serhii
  • Herasimov Artem
  • Holdenberh Valeria
  • Holubiev Andrii
  • Holubiev Dmytro
  • Horobtsova Iryna
  • Huhuryk Rustem
  • Ibrahimov Ernest
  • Ibrahimov Ismet
  • Ibrahimov Tymur
  • Ibraimov Arsen
  • Ismailov Rustem
  • Izetov Riza
  • Kabakov Serhii
  • Kadyrov Osman
  • Kantemirov Eldar
  • Karimov Alim
  • Kashuk Denys
  • Kayov Yuriy
  • Khairedinov Seyran
  • Khalilov Ihor
  • Khalilov Lenur
  • Khudolei (Stetsenko) Stanislav
  • Kolomiets Andrii
  • Kotov Serhii
  • Kovalskyi Serhii
  • Kozlov Ivan
  • Kozlya Dmytro
  • Krosh Ekrem
  • Krosh Enver
  • Kryvtsun Volodymyr
  • Kuku Emir-Usein
  • Kulievych Andrii
  • Kupych Ihor
  • Kurtamet Appaz
  • Kyselov Oleksii
  • Lasinskyy Hennadii
  • Lemeshko Hennadii
  • Lialka Denys
  • Maladyka Volodymyr
  • Mambetov Khalil
  • Mamutov Enver
  • Melnychuk Yevhen
  • Memetov Remzi
  • Memetshayev Artur
  • Mesutov Ruslan
  • Mezhmedinov Nariman
  • Muedinov Yashar
  • Murasov Rustem
  • Muratov Zekiria
  • Murtaza Seyran
  • Mustafayev Marlen
  • Mustafayev Murat
  • Mustafayev Server
  • Mustafayev Seydamet
  • Nahaiev Ruslan
  • Nimetulaiev Remzi
  • Novatskyi Oleksandr
  • Ofitserov Serhii
  • Omerov Enver
  • Omerov Riza
  • Osmanov Ansar
  • Osmanov Erfan
  • Osmanov Rustem
  • Parkhomenko Leonid
  • Petranov Denys
  • Petrovskyy Mykola
  • Petrushyn Yevhen
  • Prykhodko Oleh
  • Rastorhuiev  Vitalii
  • Reshetnichenko Danylo
  • Reznik Konstiantyn
  • Ryazanov Vitaliy
  • Sahandzhy Fevzi
  • Sakada Volodymyr
  • Saledinov Aider
  • Saliev Seyran
  • Schmidt Ihor
  • Seidalliev Nasrulla
  • Seidametov Lenur
  • Seidametov Refat
  • Seitabdiev Seitveli
  • Seitkhalilov Rustem
  • Seitmemetov Rustem
  • Seitosmanov Enver
  • Seitosmanov Ernest
  • Seitumerov Abdulmedzhyt
  • Seitumerov Osman
  • Seitumerov Seitumer
  • Settarov Oleksii
  • Sheikhaliev Rustem
  • Shtyblikov Dmytro
  • Shykhametov Yashar
  • Siruk Vadym
  • Smailov Edem
  • Stashevskyi Viktor
  • Sufianov Alim
  • Sukhonosova Anna
  • Suleymanov Amet
  • Suleymanov Eskender
  • Suleymanov Ruslan
  • Tairov Rustem
  • Tarapon Oleksandr
  • Temerianov Vilen
  • Tereshchenko Kostiantyn
  • Tsyhipa Serhii
  • Umerov Aider
  • Umerov Ametkhan
  • Umerov Shaban
  • Umerova Leniye
  • Vyhivskyi Valentyn
  • Yakubov Eldar
  • Yakymenko Volodymyr
  • Yalkabov Tymur
  • Yanikov Asan
  • Yatskin Ivan
  • Yeniukov Andrii (Abdulla)
  • Yesypenko Vladyslav
  • Zakharov Dmytro
  • Zaporozhets Pavlo
  • Zarivnyi Oleksandr
  • Zeitullaiev Ruslan
  • Zekiryaev Leman
  • Zekiryaev Server
  • Zhuk Yaroslav
  • Zhukov Yevhen
  • Ziyadinov Emil
  • Ziza Bohdan

Currently, 16 journalists from Crimea, including Nariman Dzhelial, Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, are being held in Russian detention centers.

Please take part in our initiative! Choose a Kremlin prisoner and send him or her a letter or postcard from February 19 to May 19. Please, send your letters or postcards to our physical address: Kyiv, 01001, P.O. Box B-539, Human Rights Information Center. Alternatively, you can e-mail them to us at

Why is Writing Letters to Political Prisoners Important?

Our fellow citizens languishing in the Russian prisons or detention centers in the occupied Crimea are increasingly facing problems with their psychological health.

They are psychologically and physically abused by the prison administrations and their cellmates on account of their nationality and political views. A number of political prisoners have serious illnesses and disabilities. They are not provided with proper medical care even after being tortured.

Previously, we shared with you information on the deaths of Dzhemil Gafarov and Konstantin Shiring. Prison sentences meted out by Russian courts to elderly Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars tend to be too long; hence, they run the risk of not making it out alive.

A letter is a sign that a political prisoner is remembered and cared for. It sends a signal not only to your addressee but also to the prison administration. Your letter will have a human rights effect, too. For the prison administrations, this is an important message that a political prisoner is still in the public eye and that their human rights cannot be violated. And if they are, human rights activists and journalists will immediately report it.

What Should You Write About in Your Letter?

Begin your letter by providing some information about yourself: where you work or study and what you do in your free time. Write about what motivated you to reach out to this particular person. If you have read any interesting facts about the political prisoner or you share some common interests with them, you can write about that, too. Do not write anonymously. If you don't want to reveal your real identity, you should choose an alias. Political prisoners get a lot of letters and they may not remember getting one from you when they read your next letter.

You can write about whatever you feel like sharing. For example, what's happening around you and in the world, about movies, books, travel, nature, or work. You can share some emotional/funny stories or your impressions of them. When you are in prison, everything is gray and monotonous; hence, prisoners need to get some vivid images and feelings.

Ask questions. This will provide your penpal with an opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings, and views or to speak out on certain issues. Many political prisoners are educated people and they will definitely have some interesting information to share with you.

You can send them news articles, stories, or excerpts from someone's memoirs. You can even share posts written by some famous people (except for ones that will definitely get censored, such as posts of Ukrainian politicians). It'll also be nice for the political prisoners to receive postcards from places far away.

You can share news or interviews with interesting people, provide tips on improving health indoors, cite poems, or tell short stories. Your children can draw pictures, too.

You can send educational materials, such as drawing or board game instructions, math problems, tests, etc. It would also be a good idea to congratulate a political prisoner on his or her birthdayі Available only in Ukrainian..

Make sure your handwriting is legible: use a nice pen and white paper. Indicate the date of writing and number the letters (if there’s more than one of them). That will help your penpal keep your correspondence in chronological order.

If you send emails, the history of your correspondence will always be ‘at your fingertips’. If you use postal mail, you should make brief copies of your letters or take pictures of them. Postal letters arrive at long intervals, so you may forget what you wrote about in your previous ones. And you will definitely get confused if you correspond with several political prisoners.

If you are not in Ukraine, you can also send board games, such as chess or checkers. However, you need to make sure that the pieces are made of plastic and have no magnets inside. Please, keep in mind that Russian prison guards disallow card games and backgammon.

Furthermore, it is possible to send pens and pencils to Kremlin prisoners, but only in black or blue colors. Colored pencils, erasers, and pencil sharpeners are prohibited. It is also permitted to send A4 paper to the prisoners, however, it must be folded as Russian prisons only allow small envelopes, not A4 format.
If you have not decided to whom exactly to write a letter, but you still want to support political prisoners, you can not indicate a specific addressee, since political prisoners (especially in places of deprivation of liberty in Crimea) are often held together by several people in one cell, so they will be able to read your letter together.
What Letters Get Screened by Prison Censors?

All your letters and images will be checked by a censor before being passed on to your addressee. The censor may redact or remove the information in your letter. If they don't like something in it, your letter may end up not reaching the intended recipient at all. Hence, you should follow these rules:

Write in Russian: If the censor does not understand something, your letter will not reach the addressee.

Keep your letters politically neutral.

Refrain from asking questions about criminal cases (sometimes, it can do damage).

Do not write anything that could compromise you or the recipient.

Do not use ciphers, obscure symbols, or abbreviations.

Do not use obscenities, insults, erotic or pornographic descriptions.

Do not call for escape and other illegal actions (even jokingly), nor write disparagingly about the prison administration or personnel handling the political prisoner’s case (this will primarily damage you).

Please, keep in mind that censors in some correctional facilities disallow poems and cross out names in the letters.

Are There Any Restrictions on Letter Formats and Length?

There are no restrictions on the amount of text in letters or their format. You can even send a folded A2 size paper and it should be accepted.

To save money, you can make your own envelope using an A4 size paper (instructions are available on the Internet). You need to glue it well and then put some stamps on it.

If the detainee is transferred to another pre-trial detention center or prison camp prior to receiving the letter, your letter should be sent back within three days after receipt.

Letters to political prisoners may not be delivered on purpose. In this case, you can file a complaint with the prison camp administration.

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