Back in BrooklynJimmy
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Thank you for your interest in Jimmy.

  "It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it." - Benjamin Franklin


We don’t ask for anything from Jimmy’s friends, only from our government. Our focus is to do whatever we can to help our son and to keep you and other interested parties abreast of Jimmy’s status as well as any progress we make in getting him home. That can be done by visiting this website occasionally and look at the UPDATE and PRESS tabs for the latest.
If you feel the urge to do something, you can contact the President, Sec. Blinken, your Congressperson or, write to:
Ambassador Roger D. Carstens - SPHEA
U.S. Department of State
2201 'C' Street, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20520

 

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Updates

September 15, 2022,  Call to Elena from Jimmy.​  

Torture continues.  Jimmy goes blind in both eyes for 20-30 minutes.

September 14, 2022,  Call to Elena from Jimmy.​  

Hear his voice. Things have turned to a desperate situation, and Jimmy needs to be transferred to a capable facility that can diagnose and treat him.   Pray for Jimmy.  “Conscience is the window of our spirit, evil is the curtain.” — Douglas Horton

September 13, 2022, Mordovia, Russia: In early July Jimmy started complaining about severe headaches. By the end of the month they were excruciating and chronic. He made the prison officials aware of this and they started feeding him pain killers. The pills didn’t help. Jimmy insisted that he be admitted to the hospital because something was terribly wrong. He never had headaches like this before. The prison officials agreed they will try to get him into the hospital. It sounded more like an appeasement as if they didn’t take Jimmy serous. It was not until August 26 that he was finally transferred to Building 21, the prison hospital. This is not where he requested. He requested an MRI and that he should be admitted to a hospital with this equipment. He feared Building 21 because this is where the gangsters are, according to Jimmy. They will steal whatever you have and beat you. Jimmy wanted to go to a formal hospital, in a nearby city, where he knew an MRI machine was available, but Building 21 is where he was sent.

The hospital staff started giving him injections for the headaches, but these wore off quickly. He suffered in pain most of the day and night.

On August 29 his attorney visited with him. In his own words this was what he saw: “Jimmy looks bad, he has grown old, completely gray-haired and his condition causes fear for his life”. The lawyer felt it was time to write a letter to the prison authorities in Moscow requesting Jimmy be released from prison for medical reasons. He also requested that Jimmy be given an MRI at a different hospital. Injections and pills are doing nothing for his headache. Something is wrong inside his brain. Jimmy even complained about being blind for about 40 minutes one day but the hospital staff did nothing.

In the letter submitted by the attorney, the response was that a group of doctors will be assigned to examine Jimmy and report their findings to the court. The court will then interview Jimmy by video and decide whether he should be released.

On September 13, after doctors examined Jimmy more carefully, Andrey reported their diagnosis as follows: "cerebrovascular disease with pronounced persistent phenomena of focal brain damage.” Jimmy had a stroke. The doctors recommended that an MRI be performed at a hospital in Zubovo – Polyana to determine how bad the damage is and if Jimmy is still hemorrhaging. They will report their findings to the court and we now wait to see if Jimmy will be sent home alive or returned to the prison where they will gradually kill him.

August 27, 2022-Mordovia, Russia: It’s been a while since we’ve had anything to report on Jimmy because there has been so much activity behind the scenes about additional prisoner exchanges, since Trevor Reed was exchanged, and we were hoping for some positive news on this. It appears at this time Jimmy will not be a part of this activity and the concentration has been focused on Brittney Griner. Negotiations are ongoing so it’s still a waiting game as to what might happen regarding a prisoner exchange.

Jimmy continues to hope that his 2018 request for a prisoner transfer to a US Federal Penitentiary will be approved. The US Department of Justice has approved the acceptance of Jimmy, but the Russian Ministry of Justice has not yet ruled to release him. Chances of their approval are quite slim, but it seems to be the only chance Jimmy has of getting out of a Russian prison before 2028.

Sadly, Jimmy has been admitted to the prison hospital as of August 22, 2022. He has been suffering from severe headaches for more than a month and the Internist at the prison recommended he get an MRI examination to diagnose the problem and speak with a specialist. Unfortunately Jimmy has not had his MRI all week. The hospital confirmed he has high blood pressure, and they are giving him medication to treat this first. High blood pressure is not a new condition. He was diagnosed with HBP earlier this year. This is a condition he developed while in prison.

His wife Elena received a call from Jimmy at the hospital on this date. He still complains about the headaches and is disappointed nothing is being done to relieve the pain. He has not seen a cardiologist or neurologist yet and has not has his MRI. We do not know at this time when this will be addressed or what will be done to help him. We have contacted the US Embassy in Moscow and they are investigating this situation. Unfortunately, protocol forbids the Embassy to telephone Jimmy. He must call the Embassy, but the hospital authorities will only allow him to call his wife. The Russian Federation wants all requests in writing which takes weeks to get written replies. We’ll keep you posted.

June 24, 2022-Mordovia, Russia:  This week marks a special period in the 5.5 years Jimmy has been incarcerated. His wife Elena has finally been allowed to visit him after more than 2 years of not seeing each other. Of course she had to drive more than 8 hours from Moscow to the prison, but she will have high protein foods, medications, a water filter and of course toilet paper for Jimmy.. She’ll leave with him whatever the prison authorities will allow. It would not be unusual if the Russians kept a few things for themselves.

The prisoner exchange of Trevor Reed generated a lot of enthusiasm among the Americans in Russia. They were expecting the trend to continue but nothing is happening.

On another note, the case of Britany Griner brings attention to the Americans imprisoned in Russia. That's good!

However, the State Dept. is focusing on her case due to the pressure from the WNBA and the gay community which probably puts other cases on the back burner.

On Friday, June 17, 3 delegates from the US Embassy in Moscow visited Jimmy and the other 2 Americans in prison, Paul Whelan and Tom Stwalley. At this point, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US Embassy is telling Jimmy and others that there is nothing to talk about regarding transfers. Jimmy believes the State Dept. has been ordered to remain silent publicly about any transfers. We sent to the Embassy papers to deliver to Jimmy. Of course, they must hold the papers up against a glass for Jimmy to peruse, then give all papers to the prison authorities to translate into Russian and approve everything before giving them to Jimmy. The Embassy delegates said that Jimmy chuckled when he saw a couple of my children's books which are being published. Hopefully he will be given the books and will enjoy them. I am challenging him to write the title song for the movie cartoon, SPARKLES HELPS SANTA, based on the book. This should keep his mind occupied.

We see no progress taking place other than a lot of chatter on Twitter amongst the families of the prisoners around the world. Jimmy remains optimistic about a transfer and I’m sure that his wife’s visit has rejuvenated his spirit. Let’s pray that his optimism continues and that he will be home soon. Stay tuned, there's more to come.

June 10, 2022-Mordovia, Russia: Things have gotten worse at the Labor Camp since the sanctions were imposed against Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine. The prison doctor died about a year ago and has not been replaced. Jimmy has contracted high blood pressure on top of his other medical problems and has no doctor to consult. His wife tried to send him medicines, but the authorities won't allow any medicines to Jimmy without the doctor's approval. This applies to the over-the-counter cream Jimmy needs for his psoriasis. There is a shortage of basic needs like toilet paper, toothpaste, and even food.

Jimmy spent some time with Trevor Reed while in the prison hospital and Trevor was recently exchanged for a Russian being held in America. We believe Biden's team missed a golden opportunity in these negotiations. When Obama was President, Putin offered 13 Americans in exchange for 2 Russians being held in a US prison, Yaroshenko and Bout. Obama rejected the offer. Now Biden has a team of negotiators who accept a one for one deal? We believe he could have gotten more. The US still has Bout and other Russians in US prisons, and Putin would like them back. We believe that Ambassador Roger Carstens, the special negotiator for American hostages, is constantly in touch with all countries holding American prisoners. We hope he is successful bringing home ALL Americans. With all that America possesses, there must be something we can offer Putin in exchange for Jimmy, Paul Whelan, Tom Stwalley and Britney Griner. They are all now political prisoners, and more Americans are being arrested to build up an inventory of Americans. This will continue until we get serious about protecting American lives. The US has severe sanctions against Russia to help Ukraine. How about offering relief of some of these sanctions in exchange for at least these 4 Americans? Then work on ALL Americans. If Russia arrests more Americans, impose even more sanctions. As the wealthiest and most powerful country in history, how can we be pushed around like this? Jimmy still believes that he will soon be transferred back to the US. We support his optimism, since that is what keeps him positive, and hope this is the year he will be home for Christmas.

May 22, 2022 - Washington, DC: Jake Tapper interviewed Trevor Reed, the American Marine who was exchanged 2 weeks ago for a Russian being held in a U.S. prison, Konstantin Yaroshenko. This is a modified version of that interview aired Sunday night, this date on CNN: (31) Trevor Reed describes his release from Russian prison - YouTube. One of the things missing is at the end of the program, where CNN paid tribute to American citizens still held captive in foreign prisons throughout the world, there was no mention of the two remaining American prisoners that were with Trevor in Mordovia, Jimmy Wilgus and Tom Stwalley. It was also a little disappointing that Trevor never mentioned their names during the interview, despite the fact that Trevor told Jimmy personally, when they were in the prison hospital together for more than a week, that he would fight for Jimmy’s release if he got home first. That hasn’t happened that we know of, but of course all negotiations are confidential until something actually happens, then it becomes public. We have not heard from Trevor about Jimmy, though we have made attempts to contact his family, despite a promise Trevor made to Jimmy that he would contact his parents when he returned to the States. Hope endures eternally in Jimmy’s mind, and we share in his optimism.

April 27, 2022 - RIA Novosti Moscow; Finally, there is positive news regarding a prisoner exchange. "Russian Konstantin Yaroshenko was exchanged for a US citizen Convicted in Russia Trevor Reed, the Foreign Ministry said." That is the headline in Russia and Putin is taking a bow for negotiating a one for one exchange of prisoners. We are delighted for Trevor and his parents, Joey and Paula. Jimmy did not get a chance to say goodbye to Trevor as he was rushed out of prison with no advance warning, but Jimmy, as well as his cell mate Thomas Stwalley, are delighted for him and wish him well. We pray that these negotiations will continue, and the next round will include all Americans being held in Russian prisons.

April 24, 2022 - Moscow: There is a slight correction from our last update. Jimmy did not file an application for a transfer, his wife did so before he could get an appointment to see the warden. Nonetheless, a request for a transfer has been filed and Elena has been told she could expect a response in about 1 month. Things at the prison are not going well since the invasion into Ukraine. Jimmy recently went to the prison store to buy provisions and they have no milk, fresh fruits or vegetables. The cost of everything at the store has at least doubled. Since the prison gives prisoners necessary supplies only twice/year, he has to buy things like toothpaste, toilet tissue, vitamins, soap, etc. from the store. There is "bartering" going on at the prison. Russian prisoners are allowed packages from home 2-3 times/month. Jimmy is allowed only 1 package/month which his wife sends to him. It will include mainly food, OTC medicines like aspirin and ointment for his legs, and cigarettes. Jimmy trades the cigarettes to other prisoners for the things he needs. His uniform is quite worn, and a little oversized since he has lost weight, and he requested a new uniform. They will charge him for it and the cost is more than he receives in a month. The cost to make a phone call to his wife or the Embassy has more than doubled. He uses a phone card which his wife pays into and after a few calls it's out of credit again. Due to the sanctions against Russia, there are no institutions that will allow us to transfer money to Elena or Jimmy's attorney. We have set up an account with the USDOS whereby we can send money to the US Dept. of State in Washington, DC and they will transfer it to our account at the US Embassy in Moscow. The Embassy in turn will transfer the money to Jimmy's account at the prison for use at the store. He has no way to get the money to his wife to purchase supplies for him. Jimmy has been wearing the same reading glasses for more than 7 years and the prison will not give him new ones, not even an eye examination, unless he pays for this himself. The cost to hire an optometrist to come to the prison is outrageous. His friend Tom has broken his last contact lens working at the factory and the prison will not replace them. This is nothing like an American prison. With the detaining of Britany Griner, the Embassy has warned any Americans in Russia to get out before they are also arrested. Putin is determined to build up an inventory of American prisoners for leverage in negotiating their release. The Embassy has declared all Americans as political prisoners and will work on that classification to gain release of all Americans being held in Russian prisons.

April 18, 2022 – Mordovia: A fellow inmate of Jimmy, a Russian young adult who speaks good English, was recently transferred to a prison close to Moscow so he could continue his sentence close to his family. Upon his arrival at the new location, he advised his mother to call Jimmy’s wife in Moscow to tell Jimmy about this new law and this new prison facility.

Apparently, in April of 2021, President Putin signed an Amendment to the Penal Code allowing eligible prisoners to file an application to be transferred to this new location, if they have family in Moscow, they want to be transferred, and they did not commit a crime that would make them ineligible.  

Jimmy believes he will qualify and has filed a formal request for a transfer. Now all we can do is pray as we wait for a decision from the Russian Federation.

This new prison is a prototype to mimic prisons in Western Civilizations. Prisoners will be fed 3 nourishing meals a day, there are no labor camps, supplies for good hygiene practices will be supplied as needed and the environment is much more social. Prisoners will spend their day learning vocations that will rehabilitate the prisoners in preparation for life after prison. Jimmy will be allowed to participate in a music and cinema program where he can work on recording and filming videos. This is exactly what he needs and looks forward to this happening.

 

March 22, 2022- Mordovia; Pursuant to our previous report, Jimmy was sent back to the hospital for treatment of his legs, feet and whatever other medical problems ha may have, on March 15, 2022.

With the help of a friend in Russia, a call was made to the prison authorities instructing them that Jimmy be sent to the hospital and remain there until he is cured. We are quite pleased that Jimmy might finally get cured.

 Today we received a diagnostic report on Jimmy’s condition. “Examined and consulted by specialist doctors.  The diagnosis was made; Hypertension 2nd stage, risk 3.  HSNO.  Varicose disease of the lower extremities. Eczema of the lower leg and Onychodystrophy of the feet.

 The big surprise here is the high blood pressure. For this he is being given a pill to address his HBP. After all the mistreatment he has been through over the past 5 years and the constant disappointment of being led to believe he will be included in a prisoner exchange, only to find out that negotiations were terminated months ago. With the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, any hope of a prisoner exchange was out of the question.

 Based on a reply from the US Embassy in Moscow, even the possibility of a prisoner transfer has been quenched. There is no prediction as to when Jimmy, or any American prisoner, will be released from prison.

 In a phone conversation today with Jimmy, he is feeling depressed. He has come to the realization that the Prisoner Exchange negotiations have ended and there is a slim to zero chance he will be coming home before 2029.

 We believe that the future of all American prisoners depends on Putin's future. If Putin remains in power no Americans will be released, even if their sentence is over. The rumor is that all sentences of foreign prisoners are being reviewed and there may be extended sentences. Putin’s autonomous power was confirmed today when it was reported that Navalny, Putin’s political rival, had his sentence extended another 9 years. This was a warning to the US that Putin has this power and is not afraid to use it, even against a Russian.

 

Jimmy advised us that there is an Italian in his camp who will be released by the end of this month even though his sentence is not over.   Right now, it looks like Putin is in control of everything and may be seeking revenge against Biden and the U.S. Things may get tough for American prisoners.

 Jimmy is also upset that his friend Trevor Reed, who was in the hospital with Jimmy, is being sent back to the prison with aspirins even though he has a cracked rib. Aspirin was all they gave him while in the hospital about a week.

 It is now impossible to get any funding to Jimmy or his wife in Russia since all transfer of funds to Russia has been discontinued by the U.S.. Fortunately we anticipated this might happen with the invasion of Ukraine so we sent sufficient funds to carry Jimmy through the end of 2022. Unfortunately prices have more than doubled at the prison store and he may run out of personal hygienic and other personal products by years end. So much depends on this war. Something drastic may have to occur to bring it to an end. There is so much to pray for and we appreciate your support.

March 10, 2022 - Mordovia Prison, Russia:  Jimmy called today to advise the warden is sending him back to the hospital with instructions to the hospital staff to fix the disease in his legs and the persistent pain in his foot once and for all. Tom Stwalley, a fellow American prisoner who speaks Russian will accompany Jimmy to act as his interpreter to make certain the Doctors understand Jimmy's condition. Tom was sentenced to 11 years because the police found marijuana plants in his apartment and accused him of selling drugs.

Jimmy was advised that Trevor Reed, an American who was found guilty of fighting with a policeman, has contracted tuberculosis and has been sent to a special hospital in Russia. Trevor was in a different building and the rumor is that TB is common in that building.

There is also news circulating about a black female basketball player who was sentenced to 15 years for possession of drug paraphernalia. 

We don't know how these events will impact on the American prisoners, but hopefully the USDOS will be more aggressive about the treatment of American citizens in Russian prisons.

February 25, 2022 – Mordovia Prison, Russia:  Today Jimmy’s life in prison has changed dramatically. An anonymous and influential friend made a phone call to the Warden at the prison and Jimmy was advised by the Warden that he will personally take care of Jimmy. There will be no more unwarranted visits to solitary confinement and the Warden will take care of Jimmy’s medical problems personally as well as his safety. He will not be sent to the hospital because they are too busy to give Jimmy the attention he needs. The prison medical staff can provide whatever is required to cure Jimmy’s leg and foot issues and he is finally getting the medications he needs. 

All your prayers have helped to bring this Guardian Angel to Jimmy’s aid and his life in prison has become bearable. Our sincerest thanks and GOD BLESS all of you.  

 

February 20, 2022, Mordovia Prison: On Jan. 14, Jimmy was sent to Solitary Confinement on charges that he did not address a prison employee properly. No one heard from Jimmy for 1 week, so the attorney visited him on Jan. 21. He was surprised to find Jimmy in solitary again. He reported that Jimmy’s legs had a serious rash that seemed to also be ulcerated. The attorney requested that Jimmy be given medical attention and the prison officials agreed to send him to the hospital. They took no action for 5 days. Jimmy was finally admitted to a hospital in a town outside the prison called Barashevo on Feb. 4, after he served his punishment.

The attorney visited the hospital on Monday, Feb 7 and Jimmy had not received any medical attention over the weekend. The attorney insisted on speaking with a doctor. She was a Lieutenant Colonel in the military and did not seem very interested in the American. She ordered the nurse to take Jimmy’s vitals and a skin sample. The nurse gave Jimmy 2 pieces of glass and told him to scrape tissue from the rash onto the glass slides.

This is Jimmy's 4th time in the hospital for the same condition, psoriasis. Since the Russian doctors have not been able to cure this disease after 3 attempts, it may be a perpetual problem and we recommend he be sent back to the US where US doctors can monitor and treat his psoriasis properly. The attorney said releasing Jimmy would be impossible unless he was terminal. Thank God that is not the case.

Jimmy remained in the hospital for 12 days, during which time the attorney visited twice more. The legs were not getting better, and nothing had been done, not even an ointment to relieve the itching. The doctor told him that they are waiting for the test results of the skin samples before they can treat him. That never happened and as of Feb. 18 there has been no notice of test results.

On Feb. 14 Jimmy was returned to the prison and was immediately sent to the factory. He became dizzy and his blood pressure systolic was 160. On Feb. 17 he was allowed to call his wife who emailed a message that Jimmy needs help. His legs are getting worse. The lawyer was contacted, and arrangements have been made for the lawyer to visit Jimmy on Monday, Feb. 21, accompanied by a private dermatologist. A follow up on Jimmy's condition will appear on this Update page after an assessment is received from the dermatologist.

Jan. 21, 2022 - COPY OF LETTER JIMMY GAVE TO HIS ATTORNEY TO PASS ON TO HIS FAMILY (Click heading to read letter)

Mordovia Prison, IK-17; January 21, 2022 – EMAIL RECEIVED FROM JIMMY’S ATTORNEY.

Hello! Today, January 21, 2022, I was at Jimmy's. He is in the punishment cell, but this has nothing to do with a criminal case on drugs or with any new criminal case. Let me remind you that the criminal case on drugs was suspended in April 2021 and since that time Jimmy has not been of interest to any of the investigators. Jimmy has been in the punishment cell for 7 days. For the first time, he was given 4 days in the punishment cell for breaking the daily routine. The second time he was given 14 days for the fact that he incorrectly greeted an employee of the colony. Jimmy has been in the punishment cell for 7 days and will stay there until February 4 if he is not sent to the hospital by that time. His legs are in a terrible state, they've never been like this before. The legs are swollen like an elephant's and all in ulcers. I think that besides psoriasis, Jimmy has problems with the cardiovascular system, which cannot pump blood from the lower extremities. On this occasion, I will write an appeal for staging to the hospital. Jimmy complained about poor nutrition in the colony. He is fed only pasta, potatoes and bread. Sometimes they give a little meat. And MORE and more no other food. Jimmy hasn't seen vegetables in 5 years. Jimmy asked me to tell you that Elena is all he has. He knows everything about the operation and is very worried. He regrets that he can't call her. He is alone in the cell. Jimmy asks to inform John Sullivan, Luke Davis, and Geoff Martineau about his illness. Jimmy said that an employee of the colony named Kazakov was hunting him. Jimmy also complained that he was not allowed to wash because of this he developed a foot fungus. On my own behalf, I will write brief complaints to the authorities. The head of the colony is on sick leave, so I couldn't talk to him. The deputy head of the colony, Shukshin, was afraid to talk to me, said that he was not authorized to conduct such negotiations, that this was the case of the head of the colony. I would also like to add that in Russia, lawyers have been banned from using Dictaphones on dates with convicts and bringing cameras into the colony.

01/18/2022 09:25 AM EST - Secretary Blinken’s Call with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

Office of the Spokesperson Ned Price

"Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. They discussed the January 10 Strategic Stability Dialogue, January 12 NATO-Russia Council, and January 13 OSCE Permanent Council meetings. The Secretary stressed the importance of continuing a diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions surrounding the deeply troubling Russian military build-up in and near Ukraine. The Secretary reiterated the unshakable U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and underscored that any discussion of European security must include NATO Allies and European partners, including Ukraine."

It looks like priorities have shifted and there is no longer any talk about the prisoner exchange. Jimmy is still optimistic because he doesn't know how bad the relationship is between Russia and the USA. This exchange should have been done months ago if Biden had accepted Putin's offer last summer. We will keep exploring other avenues to bring him home.

By the way, Jimmy was placed back in solitary on January 14, for reasons unknown yet. We have requested Jimmy's attorney to visit the prison on January 18 to discover what happened and when Jimmy will be released from "Shizo".

Washington, DC - January 10, 2022: A letter to the USDOS referencing a meeting between the US and Russia 

Dear Secretary Sherman;

With reference to your recent meetings with Foreign Minister Ryabkov, see below, we are disappointed there was no discussion about the Prisoner Exchange promised by President Biden last June 15, 2021.

Please advise if this subject is still on the table. We would hope that the Americans wasting away in a Russian prison, working 6-7 days a week in Russian sweatshops, would be a priority in all negotiations. We expected that after 7 months of a promise by President Biden, the Americans would be home by now. Can you promise these American prisoners, and their families, that you and the Biden Administration will not abandon them and the State Department will work toward the success of this promise?

 

Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov - 01/09/2022 04:17 PM EST

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov today in Geneva. Deputy Secretary Sherman was accompanied by Lt. Gen. James Mingus, Director of Operations, Joint Staff, and Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov was accompanied by Deputy Minister of Defense Col. Gen. Aleksandr Fomin. The Deputy Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister discussed the bilateral topics both sides would address during the extraordinary meeting of the Strategic Stability Dialogue (SSD) January 10.  The Deputy Secretary stressed the United States’ commitment to the international principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the freedom of sovereign nations to choose their own alliances. The Deputy Secretary affirmed that the United States would welcome genuine progress through diplomacy. The United States will discuss certain bilateral issues with Russia at the SSD, but will not discuss European security without our European Allies and partners. The Deputy Secretary underscored that discussion of certain subjects would be reserved for the NATO-Russia Council meeting in Brussels on January 12 and the OSCE Permanent Council meeting in Vienna on January 13.

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