Russian environmentalist jailed

February 13, 2014 - 8:00:50 am
KRASNODAR: A leading Russian activist who campaigned against environmental damage caused by preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi was sentenced to three years in a penal colony yesterday.

Rights groups blasted the decision against Yevgeny Vitishko, a geologist and activist with the group Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus.

Vitishko was convicted in 2012 of damaging a fence during a protest against the construction of what the group believes is a mansion for the region’s governor in a public forest and received a suspended sentence.

A judge in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar yesterday upheld a ruling that he had breached that sentence and ordered him to serve a three-year prison term.

Human Rights Watch condemned Vitishko’s sentence as punishment for his criticism of the Olympics. “The case against Vitishko has been politically motivated from the start,” Yulia Gorbunova, a researcher at HRW, said.

Vitishko was placed under arrest last Monday for 15 days for allegedly swearing in public.