Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Olympics: Sochi activist to be detained during Games
First Published Feb 03 2014 09:15 am • Last Updated Feb 03 2014 09:55 am

Sochi, Russia • An activist who has reported on the environmental fallout from construction for the Sochi Olympics was found guilty Monday of swearing in public and ordered jailed for 15 days, his lawyer said.

Yevgeny Vitishko, who is serving a three-year, suspended sentence for spray-painting a fence, had planned on traveling to Sochi to present an environmental report.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Alexander Popkov, a lawyer for Vitishko in Sochi, told The Associated Press that his client was arrested as he was about to leave the town of Tuapse, 72 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Sochi along the Black Sea coast, after formally filing for permission to travel to the Olympic city. He was found guilty of swearing at a bus stop, a hooliganism charge.

Vitishko and another activist, Suren Gazaryan, were found guilty in 2012 of "deliberate destruction of property" for spray-painting the fence of what they said was a local governor’s property in a national forest where construction is forbidden. Both men received a suspended sentence, but Gazaryan was later threatened with more charges and fled Russia. He was granted political asylum in Estonia.

Vitishko is a member of the Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus, a group that has been key in shedding light on environmental damage in the Sochi area. The organization is expected to present a new report on Sochi later this month.

Valery Khachaturyan, another activist who was present at Vitishko’s trial, told the AP that the court session lasted barely four minutes. The judge refused Vitishko’s motion to summon witnesses who said he was swearing in public.

Vitishko told the court he was visiting authorities of the penitentiary at the time when the unidentified witness claimed he was swearing at a bus station, Khachaturyan said.

The 15-day sentence means that Vitishko won’t be in the Sochi area for most of the Olympics, as well as the torch relay through Tuapse.

Although Russians swear abundantly in public, it is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine or up to 15 days in jail. It is an offense that is rarely enforced.

Rights groups have accused Russian officials of harassing activists and journalists in the Sochi area, detaining them on trumped-up charges.

story continues below
story continues below

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.