Evgeny Vitishko is free
On 22 December Evgeny Vitishko, a Russian environment activist, was freed from the Sadovaya prison colony in Tambov Oblast. He was met by his fellow activists from Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus (EWNC) at the colony gates and he is now on his way home.
A hearing was held today to address Vitishko’s potential release, during which the court read an official letter from the Russian Ombudswoman asking for justice for Vitishko. The prosecutor modified its original appellate petition, which would have kept Vitishko in the colony for an additional month, and asked the court to rule that Vitishko should register in Tuapse, the city of his residency, and not in Slavyansk-na-Kuban as asked in original appeal. The court supported this suggestion and ruled that Vitishko cannot leave the Tuapse district without proper notification of officials. The remainder of Vitishko’s sentence will be served in a form of restriction of liberty.
We are happy that Vitishko will be celebrating New Year and Russian Christmas with his family and friends. We are also grateful for the expressions of solidarity with Vitishko from the environmental, human rights and international community since his imprisonment in February 2014.
We hope that persecution of Vitishko stops with today’s ruling and that he will be able to continue his human rights and environmental work without fear of criminal prosecution.
Based on information by Environmental Watch on North Caucasus