Person of the Week: Evgeny Vitishko

posted 29 Nov 2015, 04:17 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 29 Nov 2015, 04:29 ]
On 23 November 2015 Evgeny Vitishko declared a hunger strike in protest at moves by prosecutors who had challenged steps towards his release on parole. On November 10, the Kirsanov Court in Russia’s Tambov Region had granted Vitishko’s appeal for conditional release from his custodial sentence at the local Sadovaya Prison Colony, where he’s served a year and nine months on a three-year sentence for spray painting an environmental message on a fence. However, late on 19 November prosecutors filed an 11th hour appeal which, as Bellona notes, would 'keep Vitishko in jail until it can be decided precisely where he will live out his conditional sentence upon his release.' This effectively postpones Vitishko's release until at least 3 December 2015. 

This is the second time Evgeny Vitishko has declared a hunger strike. As Rights in Russia has reported earlier, on 6 October 2015, Evgeny Vitishko's lawyer said his client had been on hunger strike since 29 September in protest at a Tambov court's decision to reject his request for release on parole. 

Evgeny Vitishko was jailed after he raised concerns about the environmental consequences of the construction work for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Initially he was given a three-year suspended sentence in 2012 for spray-painting on a fence in a wooded area outside Sochi in protest at what he alleged was illegal construction. His sentence was changed to time in prison in December 2013 when a court ruled he had violated the terms of his suspended sentence. Amnesty International has recognized Evgeny Vitishko as a prisoner of conscience and says that Vitishko's trial, conviction and treatment of his appeal have all been suspect. Amnesty International urged the Russian authorities to immediately release Vitishko after he began an earlier hunger strike in April 2015. The Moscow-based human rights group Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Vitishko to be a political prisoner.

'Политзаключенный Евгений Витишко объявил голодовку,', 26 November 2015
'BREAKING: 11th hour prosecutors’ appeal torpedoes Russian eco-prisoner Vitishko’s Saturday release,' Bellona, 20 November 2015
'Jailed Russian Environmental Activist On Hunger Strike,' RFE/RL, 6 October 2015
'Yevgeny Vitishko. PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO YEVGENII OR SEND HIM A CARD,' Southend Amnesty International Group, 22 September 2015
'Russia: environmentalist could face further jail time because of "negligent attitude to weeding tomatoes",' Amnesty International UK, 14 April 2015