Staunton, April 12 – Yevgeny Vitishko, the environmental activist who is serving a three year sentence in a Russian penal colony for exposing official malfeasance in the run-up to the Sochi Olympiad, has declared a hunger strike after the Russian Supreme Court refused to review the way his case has been handled.
The activist, who was initially given a suspended sentence for his activities, had that suspension revoked and was sent to the camps. He and his lawyers appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, but at the end of March, he was informed that his appeal had been denied (bellona.ru/articles_ru/articles_2015/vitishko_hunger-strike).
In protest, he has begun a hunger strike possibly in the hope that the Tambov court which is scheduled to hold a hearing on his case this Wednesday, April 15, will re-instate his suspension and allow him to go home. But the odds of that happening seem very long against, the Bellona organization says.
While in the camps, Vitishko has taken up the causes of his fellow prisoners. His jailors have thus found him guilty of violating prison rules eight ties and subjected him to seven spells of disciplinary treatment. Most of these came after he protested the mass beating of prisoners by their jailors to the press.
In a related development, one that highlights the contempt many Russian officials and even ordinary Russian citizens feel for their environment, the Kavkaz-uzel news agency reports that much of the Olympic Village constructed for the Sochi Games at such high cost has been vandalized and left uninhabitable (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/259804/).