Not far from the cheering crowds and spectacular competition of the Sochi Winter Games, Russian authorities are cracking down on critics.
Russian environmental activist Yevgeniy Vitishko has been sent to a penal colony for three years because he would not keep quiet about what he saw and exposed in the forests near Sochi – the illegal destruction of protected forests and massive contamination of waterways and landfills resulting from construction for the Olympic Games.
Yevgeniy’s co-defendant, Suren Gazaryan, fled the country in December and received asylum in Estonia. With good reason. These activists have no faith in the Russian justice system. Yevgeniy’s trial was deeply flawed and unfair. It was designed to put him behind bars and silence him.
Suren, Yevgeniy and many of their colleagues at Environmental Watch for North Caucasus have been harassed and intimidated for months. They’ve been followed, searched, and their families have been threatened.
Don’t be fooled by Russia’s pre-Olympics release of political prisoners. Russia is tightening its grip on activists, and things will only get worst once the Sochi games are over and international journalists leave. Yevgeniy’s sentence is absurdly harsh and clear in its message – be quiet or pay the price.
Click here to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Yevgeniy Vitishko.