Why has Evgeny Vitishko been forced to wear an electronic ankle tag?

posted 24 Jan 2016, 10:42 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 24 Jan 2016, 10:47 ]
22 January 2016

Source: HRO.org (info)
The political prisoner and well-known environmentalist Evgeny Vitishko from the Kuban region has been forced to wear an electronic ankle tag following his release from a prison colony after the remainder of his sentence was commuted to a supervised release thanks to an international campaign.

According to Andrei Rudomakh, a correspondent for the Environmental Watch for the North Caucasus, Evgeny Vitishko, one of the group’s activists, was obliged to register with the Tuapse Federal Department of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for the Krasnodar Region on 20 January 2015 following his release from prison on 22 December 2015.

Vitishko attempted to complete the registration formalities on 25 December 2015, after arriving in Tuapse from the Tambov Region where he had been in prison, but the Tuapse Federal Department refused to register him on that particular day.

What was most surprising about this visit, however, was that Vitishko was informed by the member of staff dealing with his case that he would be fitted with an electronic ankle tag as part of his registration procedure.

Given the complete absence of any grounds for this course of action, Andrei Babushkin, a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, has called on the Federal Penitentiary Service to refrain from subjecting Vitishko to monitoring of this kind.

Vitishko was registered in accordance with the standard procedure, without any violation of his rights, and no one at the Tuapse Federal Penitentiary Department made any reference to the electronic ankle tag, but as evening approached he was telephoned by a member of staff (Mr Karatayev) and asked to report promptly in order to be fitted with an electronic ankle tag.

The procedure took around two hours. Vitishko has been fitted with the same kind of tag which is used for people who are under house arrest and which can only tell whether or not the relevant person is within range of the base device.

Andrei Babushkin, member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, telephoned Mr Karatayev to enquire about the “particular hazard” which Evgeny Vitishko is deemed to pose and which requires him to be fitted with an electronic ankle tag, and the identity of the person who issued the urgent orders to carry out this procedure.

Mr Karatayev gave nothing away except the fact that he had acted on the instructions of “a superior”. The motivation behind these instructions and the person who issued them are currently a mystery.

The Council for Civil Society and Human Rights and the Environmental Watch for the North Caucasus intend to investigate the grounds on which Vitishko has been subjected to this form of monitoring, which significantly curtails his rights and gives grounds for concern that he may be unjustly accused of infringing the terms of his supervised release.

Problems could arise in connection with the fact that the Russian authorities are not accustomed to working with the technology used in the ankle tags, which frequently malfunction and give false readings.

Andrei Rudomakh, correspondent for the Environmental Watch for the North Caucasus, noted that it was the Tuapse Federal Department of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for the Krasnodar Region which petitioned a court in 2013 to change Vitishko’s sentence to a term in a prison colony rather than a suspended sentence.

Translated by Joanne Reynolds
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