Russian physicist Valentin Danilov spent a decade in prison as a result of an espionage conviction before he was granted early release on parole. Rights groups have called his case politically motivated and the charges trumped-up. While in prison, Danilov wrote a blog for RFE/RL's Russian Service. What follows is a translation of his last post for that blog, on November 9, 2012:
The trial of Pussy Riot ended with harsh sentences that defy understanding. Is the goal to intimidate? It's unlikely to work.
The $2 billion bridge on Russky Island before the APEC summit came, of course, as a surprise. (Editor's note: Russian authorities supervised the construction of the bridge, in part, to serve attendees of a summit in Vladivostok of an Asia-Pacific Cooperation summit in 2012, but the road was rendered unusable
by heavy rains months ahead of the event.) The sum is commensurate with expenses in the space industry. From this point of view, the money was simply thrown out the window. This is also symbolic.
I'm happy that money is being invested in science in Vladivostok. But science doesn't start with buildings, it starts with the creation of the right conditions for work. Scientists studying the ocean in the Far East ran into the same "traffic jams" I ran into in my time. All contacts with foreign scientists will lead, if not to jail terms, then to criminal cases.
Or course, I was upset that the hearing during which my request for parole was scheduled to be reviewed did not take place. I should have been freed a year ago! I've served two-thirds of my sentence. Why am I not being released?! I never needed any "correcting," even when I was sentenced. I am occupying someone else's place. Every inmate has two square meters at his disposal. If I'm released on parole or under house arrest, the others will have more air to breathe.
Living conditions at the prison are improving: fridges and microwave ovens are appearing...although there is nothing to fill them with. Make repairs, put up furniture -- is that what the reform consists of?
Strangely, the food of inmates in the 21st century is prepared in line with 100-year-old rules: according to the number of calories. The penitentiary system has obviously never heard of vitamins, without which even a mouse would waste away. No wonder more than 90 percent of inmates, or about 800,000 people, are listed as sick and more than 25,000 are invalids (according to figures for 2010).
In the near future, I plan to get new teeth put in. I recently had those that remain inventoried. I will wait. Wait.
-- Valentin Danilov