IOC must demand the release of Evgeny Vitishko | Den norske Helsingforskomité

IOC must demand the release of Evgeny Vitishko

IOC must demand the release of Evgeny Vitishko

The NHC is deeply concerned about today’s verdict concerning the environmental activist Evgeny Vitishko, who in a Krasnodar court has been sentenced to three years in penal colony. Photo: Oleg Kozirov

Evgeny Vitishko and his organization the North Caucasian Environmental Watch, has documented damages on the nature of the Sochi area, as a result of the construction of Olympic venues in and around Sochi and Krasnaya Polyana.

A court in the regional capital of Krasnodar ruled today to convert the suspended sentence given to Yevgeny Vitishko in 2012 into a prison term, according to his lawyer, Alexander Popkov.

Vitishko was in 2012 given a three year conditional sentence for spray painting the fence of the country house belonging to the governor of Krasnodar region Alexander Tkachev.

- The whole court process in an example of the lack of rule of law and abuse of the judiciary system that exists in today’s Russia, says Bjørn Engesland, secretary general of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. – The judicial process against Vitishko indicates that the Russian authorities want to silence critical voices during the ongoing Olympic Games in Sochi, Engesland continues.

Last week, Vitishko was planning to go to Sochi to present an environmental report, but was instead arrested in his hometown of Tuapse, and found guilty of swearing at a bus stop, receiving 15 days imprisonment. According to Popkov, the prosecutors cited his arrest 3 February as another argument in favor of his imprisonment.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee calls on the Norwegian authorities and the International Olympic Committee, to demand the release of Evgeny Vitishko. Prime Minister Solberg is travelling to the Olympic Games in Sochi tomorrow, and in her political talks with her Russian counterparts, she should bring up the case of Evgeny Vitishko.