#FreeVitishko: Rights activists to appeal against denial of parole

posted 19 Apr 2015, 20:37 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 19 Apr 2015, 20:44 ]
15 April 2015

Source: HRO.org (info)
On 15 April 2015 the Kirsanovsky district court in Tambov region refused an application for parole submitted by political prisoner and environmental activist Evgeny Vitishko, according to Sergei Loktev, the lawyer representing Vitishko’s interests on behalf of the human rights organisation Zona Prava.

Human rights activists have stressed that an appeal will be submitted against the court's ruling.

In December 2013, the suspended sentence handed down to the environmental activist and member of the NGO North Caucasus Environmental Watch for “damage to the fence surrounding the dacha owned by Aleksandr Tkachev, governor of the Krasnodar region” (the description preferred by bloggers) was amended to three years’ imprisonment in a prison colony.

The activist has completed one third of his sentence behind bars and thus has the right to request parole. Until recently he was held in Tambov Penal Colony No 2.

During the court hearing, officials from the prison colony and the public prosecutor’s office requested that Vitishko’s parole request be refused on the grounds that the prisoner had needed to be disciplined on seven occasions.

In response, Vitishko explained that the punishments had been incurred for asking the director of the institution not to swear, weeding tomatoes incorrectly (which is indeed an offence at the colony), informing journalists about widespread beatings of prisoners in the correctional institution, and giving another prisoner a sweater.

The Memorial Human Rights Centre in Moscow has declared Evgeny Vitishko to be a political prisoner.

Amnesty International believes that Vitishko is a prisoner of conscience and has called for his immediate and unconditional release.

Translated by Joanne Reynolds