Staunton, November 21 – Following an announcement that embattled environmental activist Yevgeny Vitishko would take part in the All-Russia Civic Forum in Moscow this weekend, Russian prosecutors appealed the decision of a Tambov court to release him today. As a result, he will remain in prison for the time being.
The prosecutors were apparently upset not only by Vitishko’s plan to take part in that meeting (ewnc.org/node/20086) but also by an interview he gave from the camp where he has been held since 2014 for exposing environmental crimes by officials in the run up to the Sochi Olympiad (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/11/vitishko-in-advance-of-release-from.html).
The latest twist in this story was reported by Openinform.ru, which cited Vitishko’s lawyer, Sergey Loktyev. The attorney said that Vitishko would not be released today as had been expected because of an appeal by Russian prosecutors. He said that the latter were ostensibly concerned about only “technical” issues (openinform.ru/news/prison/20.11.2015/31353/).
But Loktyev said that he and his client “consider the unexpected turn of events in this case to be connected with the announcement that Vitishko would speak at the All-Russian Civic Forum which will take place in Moscow November 21-22.” He said that the environmental analyst had planned to fly there before returning home to Tuapse.
The Tambov court has scheduled a hearing on the prosecutors’ appeal for December 3, at which time the judges can either decide to release Vitishko or keep him in prison (ewnc.org/node/20049).
Vladimir Putin received positive media coverage when he suggested several weeks ago that Vitishko should be released. But there is a high probability that the actions of his subordinates to prevent that will receive equal time or lead to the conclusion that this is another case of the Kremlin leader’s duplicity and media manipulation.