“Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus”
April 7, 2015
Evgeny’s last hope for freedom and parole will be on April 15: Supreme Court dismisses Vitishko’s appeal. Details on court hearings held on March 31.
The Supreme Court dismissed the case and refused to hear Vitishko’s appeal on the decision cancel a suspended sentence and transferring Vitishko to a penal settlement colony. At present, the last hope for Vitishko’s freedom is up to Tambov Judge Yury Losev. Preceding the Supreme Court’s dismissal, the Office of the Prosecutor General filed an appeal to overrule the decision to imprison Vitishko. However, for unknown reasons, Prosecutor’s appeal was withdrawn.
On March 31, 2014, the Kirsanovsky district court (Tambov Oblast) held a hearing on granting parole to Evgeny Vitishko, a member of Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus.
In 2012, Evgeny and his fellow activist Suren Gazaryan were sentenced to three years of a suspended sentence with a two year probation period. Evgeny was sentenced on a trumped up charges for ‘damaging a fence’ on the territory allegedly belonging to the governor of Krasnodar Krai Alexandr Tkachev. The trial was accusatory, with many procedural and substantive violations, which were pointed out numerous times by Human Rights Watch, Evgeny’s defense team, and the Supreme Court while admitting Gazaryan’s appeal. Amnesty International considers Evgeny to be a prisoner of conscience.
After Evgeny was sentenced, he continued his environmental and human rights work. As a result, someone decided that Evgeny needed to be silenced in prison. On December 2013, Evgeny’s suspended sentence was canceled and he was convoyed to the Tambov penal settlement colony to serve three years for ‘damaging’ a fence, which does not exist (according to the prosecutor’s office of Krasnodar Krai).
On March 31, the court denied an appeal to invite the deputy of the colony as a witness. However, the court finally added reference letters sent by human rights and environmental organizations; as well as the psychological expertise and a call for an expert to participate in proceedings. A few weeks earlier, the court had denied the appeals from those organizations, which then sent appeals to the court to grant Vitishko parole. The court also denied the prosecutor’s appeal to invite the head of educational work.
Vitishko’s defense announced the appeal on granting Vitishko parole arguing that, if freed, Vitishko will have a job, he has dependent children, and stating that Vitishko does not pose any danger to society and has never been such a danger, citing the results of psychological expertise.
Further, the representative of colony #2, Alexandr Protnikov, delivered his opinion to the court. And no surprises here: he stated that he ‘does not support parole for Vitishko’, and then added that ‘Vitishko committed 8 violations and has 7 disciplinary sanctions’, that ‘Vitishko did not have any rewards while in a colony; did not win in a competition, thus, no rewards for him.’
Attorney Loktev asked the colony representative if Vitishko is calm or easily provoked, the representative responded ‘calm and social.’ Further the judge announced Vitishko’s violations while in a colony:
- made a gift to one inmate (Vitishko, ‘It was March, he was cold and he did not have clothes’);
- was on sleeping accommodation at restricted time (Vitishko, ‘Sit on a bed because no chair was available’)
- made a remark to colony officer, who used foul language ( Vitishko, ‘Colony used to have many violations of the Labor Code, and we changed a lot. Colony has changed for the better since last year’)
- neglected while weeding out tomatoes by leaving weeds (Colony representative, ‘Colony has rules on weeding out tomatoes. Our colony feeds other colonies.’ Attorney, ‘Did Vitishko know about the rules before he actually weeded?’ Colony representative, ‘Don’t know.’)
- twice stored food in an improper place (Attorney pointed out the necessity to have rules on how to use refrigerator for food storage)
- On August 2, 2014 slept during restricted hours while in a penal isolator (Vitishko, ‘It did not happen’)
- Received correspondence bypassing the administration (Vitishko, ‘It did not happen’)
Expert to the court Vladimir noted that ‘In a context of penitentiary system, Evgeny Vitishko is a balanced person inclined to kindness.’ Judge Losev marked ‘According to colony reference, Vitishko violates the regime. Nobody argues that he is a good person.’ Judge asked the expert, ‘What drives a convicted person to violate the norms?’ Expert, ‘The fact that colony officials violate the norms.’
Further, the court satisfied the appeal to invite the person responsible for weeding out tomatoes in the colony.
Environmental Watch on North Caucasus is deeply concerned with the fact that the colony considers a person meeting the requirements for parole only if a convicted person cringes before colony officials.
EWNC invites the press to the hearings. Hearings will continue on April 15 at 10 am.
+7 (918)4284284, Andrey Rudomakha
+7 (918)2117818, Marina Dubrovina, Vitishko’s defense attorney