Preparations for Sochi Games Include Prison Sentence for Environmental Activist

Freedom House urges Russian judicial authorities to reverse their re-sentencing of a respected environmental activist in Krasnodar, close to the Olympic Sochi region, Evgeny Vitishko, to three years imprisonment for bringing attention to environmental abuses.

On December 20, a district court judge in the Russian city of Tuapse, about 80 miles from Sochi, changed what was originally a suspended sentence to a three-year prison term for Vitishko, a member of Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus (EWNC). He and another member of the organization were originally convicted in June 2012, for alleged destruction of property. Vitishko, who was not taken into custody, has 10 days to appeal.

EWNC has sought to document violations of environmental protection laws in connection with construction for the Sochi Games.

Freedom House deplores the lack of respect for rule of law and authorities’ harassment of human rights and environmental activists in what appears to be additional repression ahead of the Sochi games.

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