Russian Geologist Yevgeny Vitishko Conditionally Released from Prison
December 22, 2015
After a series of unsuccessful appeals, Yevgeny Vitishko was released from prison today following a hearing before the Tambov Regional Court. Dr. Vitishko’s colleagues from the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC), an environmental advocacy organization that he joined in 2009, picked him up from the courthouse and are currently making the lengthy 15-hour drive to his home in Tuapse. Dr. Vitishko served one year and ten months of his three-year custodial sentence. As a condition of his release, he cannot leave the city limits of Tuapse, unless he receives permission from the probations department to do so. These restrictions will expire in February 2017.
Dr. Vitishko is a geologist and co-founder of the private contracting firm, the Black Sea Coastal and Mountain Erosion Management, as well as a member of the EWNC. In addition to his work to abate erosion in the mountainous areas and along the coastline, he spoke out about the negative environmental impact created by Olympic construction in and around Sochi during the years leading up to the 2014 Olympic Games. Amnesty International considered Dr. Vitishko to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.
The CHR wrote a number of letters to the Russian government appealing for Dr. Vitishko’s release from prison, as did other members of the NAS, NAE, and NAM and a number of academies in the international H.R. Network.