Russian political prisoner Igor Sutiagin: 15 years imprisonment for reading newspapers!


Igor Sutiagin is one of Russia’s longest serving political prisoners.  A disarmament researcher with the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, he was arrested in 1999 and convicted in 2004 on espionage-related charges. He is serving a 15-year-sentence for supposedly passing on information about Russia’s nuclear weapons to a London‑based firm.  Amnesty International’s 2008 Report states that “Sutiagin and human rights groups claimed that he had no access to classified information, and that the government sought a severe sentence to discourage others from sharing sensitive information with other countries. Amnesty International has deemed Sutiagin a political prisoner, and other domestic and international human rights groups raised concerns that the charges were politically motivated and that there were problems in the conduct of the trial and the lengthy sentence”.

Two years have passed since then. Igor’s family and friends keep up their struggle to get him released, and run a website here at  His case sometimes gains public attention, for example, through the publication in September 2009 of his short stories Halfway to the Siberian mines ( ), yet the years go by and he has already served more than the typical sentence in Soviet times meted out for “anti-Soviet propaganda”.

 We would do well to ask ourselves how the word “Soviet” was so imperceptibly replaced by Russian, how the charges changed but became no more convincing, while the voices in defence of these new political prisoners remained pitifully few. One of the ten founders of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group in 1976 Myroslav Marynovych spoke of how important it was for him and all prisoners of conscience to feel support from people all over the world, to know that “the cause that you were suffering for had a general human dimension, that the world knew about your fate and that you wouldn’t die an anonymous death in the Siberian snow”.

It is no less important now.  Igor’s friends have just received a letter from him in which he reports receiving a parcel from the FSB [Federal Security Service] containing 44 letters addressed to him from people in France, Germany, Italy, Scotland, the USA and even one from Australia.

He can’t write to everybody, and knows the letters would probably not get through and therefore asks that they pass on his words. “A huge thank you, people! Thank you for your support, for your belief in goodness and the triumph of justice, for your refusal to accept the official lies of the authorities. Your letters help me to bear up and stand firm – thank your for your concern!”


YOUR SUPPORT IS VITAL  - Please write!


To Igor Sutyagin


163050 РОССИЯ                                             163050 Russia
г. Архангельск, ул. Пирсовая, 27                    Arkhangelsk, Pirsovaya St, 27
ФБУ ИК-1, 12-й отряд                                     FBU IK-1, 12 otryad  *

СУТЯГИНУ Игорю Вячеславовичу                  SUTIAGIN, Igor Viacheslavovych  **


*  The letters and numbers refer to the part of the penal colony he is in

** The name should be in full, as here.  If possible give the words in Russian as above as well

PLEASE do not send parcels. He is allowed only a very limited number, and these are organized by his family

Try to write simply since the letters will be opened and may not get to Igor if those reading them don’t like – or can’t understand – the content.


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