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Environmental activist, Evgeny Vitishko has been serving a prison sentence for almost 2 years of his 3 year sentence, due to his activism against the construction of ex-governor Alexander Tkachev’s dacha in a protected forest in the region of Sochi, and due to his criticism of the environmental impacts of the Sochi Olympics.
Judge Sergei Deyev changed the remainder of Vitishko’s sentence on the 10th of November and Vitishko was expected to be released on the morning of November 21st - a ruling that has been long awaited by many whom have fought for his release and criticised the harsh punishment imposed by the Russian government.
After an interview with Vitaly Servetnik from Friends of the Earth Russia, Servetnik appeared to be very hopeful of Vitishko’s freedom, however, as he noted, it was too soon to celebrate as the Russian justice system still had 10 days to file an appeal against his release. Unfortunately, it appears that Servetnik’s doubts are a reality. According to written statement by Servetnik, on the morning of the November 21st while Vitishko’s colleagues were on their way to pick him up from prison, they received a call from the authorities stating that the prosecutor has some small disagreements about the conditions of his conditional sentence.
The ruling by Judge Sergei Deyev does not stand and a retrial is expected sometime in the beginning of December. Until then, Vitishko will remain in prison and his supporters will keep their fingers crossed.
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