Contained within an emotive blog that describes life inside the Sihanoukville provincial prison and displays a letter from the author asking his mother not to feel shame is a reference to Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.
In one of jailed Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky’s many blog posts from the inside, he quotes Pushkin on visiting Crimea, in Ukraine, and likens the intensity of the poet’s words to his own experience in a Cambodian prison.
Polonsky’s reputation as an eccentric businessman fallen from grace means much has been written about him since his arrest last month over an incident at sea off Sihanoukville.
But Polonsky, 40, and his co-accused, Alexander Karachinsky and Konstantin Baglay, both 25, have been prolific writers themselves since their arrest on intentional-violence and illegal-detention charges.
By way of blogs — presumably updated by friends or families from the men’s handwritten documents — the trio have reflected, at times poetically, on their time inside.
Polonsky has written of being forced to sign documents. He has criticised the lack of support by the Russian embassy and lamented the prison’s tough conditions. He has even posted a letter he sent to King Norodom Sihamoni, pledging $1 million to improve conditions in Cambodia’s prisons.
In a post “published at the request of... Karachinsky, with his manuscripts sent from the prison”, the 25-year-old reveals his admiration for his older friend: “As for Sergei Polonsky – I began to perceive him as a teacher. We have lived through a lot together.”
In a separate post, he describes the difficulty of sleeping at night.
“So with chains on [our] feet, lying on the tiled floor, surrounded by bottles of urine, we wished each other luck for the coming [year] and failed in [our attempts] at long-awaited... sleep.”
Tan Nareth, deputy director of the prison, said inmates had no access to the internet in their cells, but said Polonsky was interested in technology.
“[He] did put forward the idea of him providing a big-screen [television] for entertainment and food for the inmates, but this was denied,” Nareth said.