Apr 12

Save the World Heritage “Western Caucasus”!

Dear Friends, I kindly ask you to spread the word and sign the petition to defend the World Heritage Site “Western Caucasus”!
Yours,
Evgeny Vitishko

Dec 22

EVGENY VITISHKO ON HIS WAY HOME FROM SADOVAYA PRISON COLONY

EVGENY VITISHKO ON HIS WAY HOME FROM SADOVAYA PRISON COLONY

Contact: Yulia Genin

yulia@crudeaccountability.org

Phone: +1 (240) 883-2670 

December 22, 2015

Today, Evgeny Vitishko 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 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 www.ewnc.org

Dec 17

Excellent overview of the current state with Vitishko’ case by Bellona.

Excellent overview of the current state with Vitishko’ case by Bellona.

http://bellona.org/news/russian-human-rights-issues/2015-12-crossed-fingers-that-russian-eco-prisoner-vitishko-will-walk-free-before-new-year

Dec 17

EVGENY VITISHKO STOPPED HIS 20 DAY HUNGER STRIKE. HIS PHYSICAL CONDITION DETERIORATES

EVGENY VITISHKO STOPPED HIS 20 DAY HUNGER STRIKE. HIS PHYSICAL CONDITION DETERIORATES

Contact: Yulia Genin

yulia@crudeaccountability.org

Phone: +1 (240) 883-2670

December 14, 2015

 

Russian environmental defender Evgeny Vitishko has ended a hunger strike after 20 days because his physical condition has severely deteriorated. He informed Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus (EWNC), where Vitishko is a member of the Board, that his blood pressure dropped, his kidneys were in pain and he felt dizziness. During his hunger strike, Vitishko was not exempted from physical labor in the penal colony where he is serving time, and he was denied his right to vacation, which is guaranteed by law.

Evgeny Vitishko has been serving a three-year sentence in a Tambov settlement colony for allegedly writing graffiti on a fence around private property belonging to Alexander Tkachev, former Governor of Krasnodar Krai, who is currently the Minister of Agriculture.

Evgeny Vitishko started his hunger strike in protest against actions by prosecutors who decided to challenge a court decision that, on November 10, 2015, reduced Vitishko’s sentence and ruled to release Vitishko to serve the remainder of the sentence through restriction of freedom. On December 3, 2015, prosecutors also petitioned the court to re-schedule the hearings to grant Vitishko parole because an alleged owner of the fence did not show up.

EWNC believes that the prosecutors’ actions are aimed at postponing Vitishko’s release. As of today, hearnings regarding the appeal on reduced sentence will take place on December 22 and hearings on parole – on December 25. EWNC also states that there is a possibility that Alexander Tkachev is playing an informal role in the prosecutors’ tactics.

Vitishko is still in the colony despite the fact that on October 1, 2015, at a meeting of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, President Vladimir Putin ordered the Office of the Prosecutor General to examine the situation around Vitishko. Prosecutors, after the presidential order, supported Vitishko’s release. However, they then challenged the decision on Vitishko’s release and are now dragging out the court’s hearing on parole. Officially, they want the court to rule that, after release, Vitishko cannot leave the small town of Slavyansk-na-Kuban where he is officially registered but has not lived for 15 years.  

We are deeply concerned about the continuing injustice against Vitishko.  He has been held in the colony for more than 18 months based on trumped up charges. We ask for his immediate release and that all charges against him be dropped as we believe he was persecuted solely for his human rights work and his right to exercise freedom of expression.

Based on information by Environmental Watch on North Caucasus www.ewnc.org

Nov 10

COURT REDUCES VITISHKO’S SENTENCE. IN 10 DAYS HE IS EXPECTED TO BE FREE

ENVIRONMENTAL WATCH THE ON NORTH CAUCASUS

NOVEMBER 10, 2015

COURT REDUCES VITISHKO’S SENTENCE.

IN 10 DAYS HE IS EXPECTED TO BE FREE

On November 10, 2015, the Kirsanov court (Tambov Oblast) held a hearing to reduce Evgeny Vitishko’s sentence based on Article 80 of the Russian Criminal Code. The court made the long awaited decision to free Vitishko from the prison colony.

The Court examined this issue for the second time after October 8, 2015, when the Tambov Oblast court overruled the decision of July 31, 2015, which denied Vitishko’s appeal to reduce his sentence. This time the chairman of the court was Sergey Deev. Vitishko participated in the hearing in person. His interests were represented by his attorneys, Sergey Loktev and Valentina Shaisipova. Members of Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus (EWNC) along with representatives of Bellona-Russia, the movement ‘Stop Nickel’ and a member of the European Union were present in the court in support of Vitishko.

The prosecutor and the prison representative supported the decision to reduce Vitishko’s sentence. In particular, the prison representative stated, “Vitishko works conscientiously, participates in events, the complaints against him have expired, and administration supports reducing the sentence.”

The prosecutor, however, did not support Vitishko’s appeal to replace the remaining term of the sentence with a fine. The prosecutor Anatoly Lyutov stated, “It is hard to measure the amount of the fine. It would be easier to replace the remaining part with a suspended sentence.”

The court decided to replace the remaining term of the sentence with restriction of freedom. The court denied Vitishko’s appeal to replace it with a fine.

If this decision is not appealed, Evgeny Vitishko will be out of the prison colony in 10 days.

Andrey Rudomakha

(Environmental Watch on North Caucasus)

Details on twitter

More information: (903)0287796, (904)2191851, Attorney Sergey Loktev (910)3430075, Anna Mikhailova (EWNC)

 

Aug 03

Environmental Defender Evgeny Vitishko Remains in Penal Colony

July 31, 2015

Free Vitishko

 

Environmental Defender Evgeny Vitishko Remains in Penal Colony

 

On July 31, 2015, the Judge of the Kirsanov district court Yury Burchevsky denied the appeal to reduce Evgeny Vitishko’s sentence based on outstanding unexpired reprimands. We are deeply concerned over Vitishko’s fate, continue following the case and support Vitishko, who was illegally persecuted and imprisoned for protecting environmental human rights. “Evgeny should have been freed on July 31st,” said Kate Watters, executive director of Crude Accountability. “In fact, he should never have been imprisoned in the first place. There is no justice in the decision to keep him in the prison colony.”

 

On court hearings:

This time, the hearings took place in the penal colony, where the illegally sentenced Russian environmental defender is serving three years for ‘damaging a fence’ near the luxury residence of the ex-governor Tkachev of Krasnodar Krai. Among others, a member of Russian Presidential Human Rights Council Andrey Babushkin was present at the hearings.

Two colony officials, the manager of the colony and Vitishko’s supervisor testified that Vitishko does not represent danger to society if freed. However, his supervisor pointed out that Vitishko’s reprimands will expire in September. The court attached a petition by Tambov public supervisory commission (ОНК), which states that Vitishko does not represent danger to society if freed.

The determining factor at the hearings was the prosecutor’s position. Prosecutor Egorov S.A., who tried to conceal his name, stated, ‘Reprimands are not expired, no rewards are present; I ask to deny the appeal.’

Thus, the court denied the appeal to reduce Vitishko’s sentence. Evgeny’s defense team will seek to appeal this decision.

Jul 30

July 31 is a key day for Vitishko’s freedom

July 31 is a key day for Vitishko’s freedom

On July 31, 2015 court will hear on reducing Vitishko’s sentece. These hearings are the last hope to free Vitishko this year. He has been unfairly kept in a penal colony for a year and four months. Now it looks that there is hope for fair judicial decision. Member of the Presidential Human Rights Council will be present at the hearings. #freevitishko

Евгений Витишко, в Кирсановском районном суде, девятый день голодовки

By Free Vitishko campaign based on EWNC’s information

http://ewnc.org/node/19002

Jul 08

ON THE 10th of JULY, THE KIRSANOV DISTRICT COURT WILL REVIEW THE APPEAL TO REDUCE EVGENY VITISHKO’S SENTENCE

“ENVIRONMENTAL WATCH ON NORTH CAUCASUS”

July 8, 2015

 

ON THE 10th of JULY, THE KIRSANOV DISTRICT COURT

WILL REVIEW THE APPEAL TO REDUCE EVGENY VITISHKO’S SENTENCE

 

This court appearance represents the last legal possibility this year to free

the Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus activist of this fabricated guilt

 

On July 10th in the Kirsanov district court of Tambov region, his lawyer Sergey Loktev will bring before the court a review of his appeal to reduce Evgeny Vitishko’s sentence. Vitishko, an environmental prisoner, has been imprisoned since Februrary 2014 for “defacing” a fence around the summer home of the former governor of Kransodar region and current Minister of Agriculture of Russia, Alexander Tkachev. This was confirmed by information published on the website of the Kirsanov district court.

Sergey Loktev filed the current appeal after the Kirsanov district court refused to hear an April 15, 2015 request for parole for Evgeny Vitishko. The appeal was filed on the basis of Article 80 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, according to which the court can replace the remaining part of an imprisoned person’s sentence with a less severe punishment after one third of the term has been served. Loktev will request that the portion remaining to be served in the colony be changed to a suspended sentence.

Andrey Rudomakha, coordinator of Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus, commented on the situation with the current court: “Judging by the way the Kirsanov district court and the Tambov regional court have reviewed the application for parole for Evgeny Vitishko, and the way the judges, representatives of the prosecutor’s office and the penal colony have behaved, the chances that this time the judge will change his position are slim. Unfortunately, the resolution of this question lies outside of the legal system. If Russia were a state with a functioning legal system, it would not be Evgeny who was in prison, but those who have illegally taken away his freedom. Evgeny’s freedom requires a political decision. As everyone in the prison system knows – from the top to the bottom – he is imprisoned as an act of revenge by Tkachev. The facts have repeatedly been borne out in the case of other political prisoners. The fact that this decision has not yet been made, even with the enormous resonance that Vitishko’s case has within civil society, including on the international level, is just absurd. The vengeful ambitions of the current Minister of Agriculture are ruining the reputation of our country and are keeping Vitishko in prison. The upcoming court case is the last legal opportunity to free Evgeny in the next six months. The next chance for his freedom will be only after December 25th, when he will have the right to appeal for parole.”

 

The legal case for Vitishko begins at 10AM on July 10th in Hall Number 7 of the Kirsanov district court. Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus calls on the media to provide extensive coverage of the case.

 

By EWNC

 

For more information (904)2191851, lawyer Sergey Loktev

Jun 23

ON JUNE 25, TAMBOV REGIONAL COURT HEARS THE APPEAL ON REJECTED PAROLE FOR EVGENY VITISHKO

ON JUNE 25, TAMBOV REGIONAL COURT HEARS THE APPEAL ON REJECTED PAROLE FOR EVGENY VITISHKO

 

If court denies parole under appealate procedure,  Evgeny Vitishko can only apply for parole six months later

 

Environmental prisoner Evgeny Vitishko informed Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus that on June 25 2015 in Tambov regional court will consider an appeal on the decision to reject his parole. This information was confirmed on the site Tambov Regional Court.

Evgeny Vitishko was convicted in a trumped-up case on the «damaging a fence» on the site of the dacha of the former governor of Krasnodar region, Alexandr Tkachev, and is serving a sentence in a penal colony №2 in the Tambov region.

The complaint was filed by Vitishko’s counsel, Sergey Loktev. The meeting will begin at 10:00. The matter will be heard by a panel of judges chaired by the Judge Alexey Istomin.

The Kirsanovsky District Court denied parole for Evgeny on April 15, 2015. Judge Yury Losev took the position of the administration of the colony whose members strongly opposed the release of Vitishko and dismissed the request about parole on a formal basis; according to the documents provided by the administration of the prison colony, he has seven repremands. Losev failed to acknowledge the completely ill-founded and artificial nature of these penalties and the key fact Vitishko should never have been penalized in the first place.

The coordinator of EWNC, Andrey Rudomakha, commented on the situation with the upcoming court: “This trial is the next phase in a terrible story about how an innocent person, who was only engaged in human rights activities, was first convicted to a conditional sentence in a fabricated decision, and then deprived of his freedom.  Despite the fact that it is not 1937, each judge who has reviewed Vitishko’s case has one after the other simply stamped the decision that has nothing to do with justice.  I hope very much that this judge, who will review Vitishko’s case will not be just another cog in this legal system in determining the fate of people.  The importance of this court decision is that if the Tambov regional court refuses to approve the complaint, then a new appeal about the early release of Evgeny can only be heard after six months.”

 

By Environmental Watch On North Caucasus, revised 

 

Information on appeal Tambov regional court considered

 

More information: (904)21918551, Sergey Loktev

May 31

EVGENY VITISHKO: “I CAN’T SURVIVE ANOTHER SIX MONTHS OF IMPRISONMENT.”

“ENVIRONMENTAL WATCH ON NORTH CAUCASUS”

May 30, 2015

 

EVGENY VITISHKO: “I CAN’T SURVIVE ANOTHER SIX MONTHS OF IMPRISONMENT.”

 

The attempt by greens to meet with the environmental prisoner, Evgeny Vitishko,

ended with a scandalous refusal by the penal colony leadership

to allow representatives of Crude Accountability to visit him

 

On May 21, 2015, activists from Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus and the American environmental nonprofit organization Crude Accountability traveled to the penal colony No. 2 (KP-2) in Tambov region in order to visit the environmental prisoner, Evgeny Vitishko, who is serving a three year sentence at the penal colony http://ewnc.org/node/18262.

In an order that has nothing to do with justice, Evgeny was imprisoned for his participation in an action, during which an illegal fence, which surrounds the Black Sea Dacha of Alexander Tkachev was printed with graffiti saying, “Sania is a thief,” and “The forest belongs to everyone.” This seriously offended Tkachev, who was the governor of Kuban at the time and presently is the Minister of Agriculture of Russia.

 KP-2 is located in a distant corner of Tambov Oblast in the village of Sadovaya in Kirsanovsk district. The road to the colony lies along completely broken down roads, which are so bad in some places that it is better to drive parallel to the road than on the road itself. The colony greeted the environmental activists with a completely idiotic sign, which read, “This area is our Tambov,” alongside the sign that read, “Penal Colony No.2, of the Penal Administration of Russia for the Tambov Region,” which immediately created the impression that this is what Tambov is famous for. Near the stand was a barrier, which blocked cars from driving any further. Visitors to the colony must carry anything they are bringing to the prisoners 800 meters down the road. Clearly this was designed to remind both visitors and prisoners who is the boss. Furthermore, next to the colony administration, where the visitor waiting room is located, is a large and empty parking lot. Across from the administration building of the colony is another oxymoron from the Federal Department of Punishment Implementation: a stand with the sign, “The motherland is work and inspiration to you!” placed there with the goal of expressing the gratitude of the prisoners for the opportunity to weed tomatoes and other labor that is useful for the Motherland.

The director of Crude Accountability, Kate Watters, traveled from the other side of the planet – from the USA – to Russia and to the village of Sadovaya specifically to visit Evgeny Vitishko. Her colleague, Sergey Solyanik, came from Kazakhstan for the same purpose. The “greens” arrived at colony before 10AM in order to be guaranteed enough time to successfully give Vitishko groceries and supplies, and also to meet with him personally. In the best traditions of Russian bureaucracy, the basic process of giving these things took hours, as did waiting for the visit. The activists were certain that, in spite of the delays, the visit would take place because there were no limitations on visitation for foreign citizens visiting prisoners in a Russian penal colony in the legislation.

However, at around 2PM, the colony staff reported that Kate Watters and Sergey Solyanik were refused visitation. After another half hour of waiting, the deputy director of KP-2, Nicholai Smykov, invited them to speak with him. He had nothing intelligible to say about the reason for denying the meeting. According to him, there is some kind of departmental instruction, which states that foreign citizens must receive advance permission from the Federal Service for Implementing Punishment (FSIP). Numerous requests to show the instructions or ask for them resulted in Smykov not responding, which led to the conclusion that this document does not exist. Attempts by the Public Oversight Commission of Tambov Oblast, to whom the greens appealed, to find out more were also in vain. Judging from the behavior of Smykov and his justifications, it was obvious that he was under pressure and that the refusal to allow Watters and Solyanik to see Vitishko was not his personal decision, but rather a command from above, where some not too intelligent boss, obviously decided to be safe in the conditions of a difficult international situation. The team decided this way, it seems, because the director of KP-2 was not at the prison that day.

As a result, only activists from Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus, Andrey Rudomakha and Oleg Desiatov, were able to have a short visit with Evgeny, who looked worn out. It was obvious that the unjust decision made on the 15th of April by the Kirsanov regional court to deny his parole had sapped his strength. He said that his batteries were wearing down and “I don’t think I can last more than another six months.” Evgeny also said that his lawyer, Sergey Loktev, had submitted a statement requesting a lesser term in accordance with Article 80 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, “Replacement of the remaining part of a term with a lesser sentence.” He also stated that the Tambov court was expected to re-evaluate the April 15th refusal soon.

The visit with Vitishko demonstrated that all the people and organizations that are working to free him need to up their game. The millstone of the repressive machine of the Russian state continues to grind away at a person who is guilty of nothing other than that he had the courage to fight against the violation of rights of citizens.

With regard to the refusal to let Kate Watters and Sergey Solyanik visit Evgeny Vitishko, Environmental Watch and Crude Accountability will work to bring to justice those responsible in the prison system for making an illegal decision, grossly violating the rights of Vitishko, Watters and Solyanik.

 

Information from Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus

 

Photographs from the trip to the penal colony to see Evgeny Vitishko

 

For more information: (918)4284284, Andrey Rudomakha

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