Target: President Vladimir Putin
Goal: Release Russian environmental activists arrested for protesting deforestation and illegal construction
Days before the Sochi Olympics in Russia, two environmental activists have been arrested and jailed. For months now, Russia has tried to silence activists and environmentalists, even jailing some journalists. Stop this blatant censorship and demand Russia release the unfairly imprisoned activists immediately.
Yevgeny Vitishko was arrested for swearing in public and charged with petty hooliganism. He and his friends were involved with protests regarding deforestation and illegal construction. Igor Kharchenko was also arrested for his environmental efforts; he and his colleagues were planning to launch a report detailing the destruction caused by construction for the Sochi Olympics.
Vitishko is facing 15 days of administrative detention for his hooliganism, but a previous environmental ‘infraction’ will send him to a prison colony for three years. Supporters of his work fear that Vitishko will be held until his administrative detention is up and then promptly shipped to the prison colony.
Igor Kharchenko is a member of the Russian NGO Environmental Watch for North Caucasus, and is currently being held by police in Krasnodar. He has been arrested for a small crime that involved his car, but Kharchenko and witnesses claim that when he walked out of his home, he saw three masked men smash his car’s front and rear windows. Kharchenko was taken to trial, without a lawyer and sentenced to five days in jail.
Kharchenko and Vitishko are both fellow environmentalists fighting for the environmental welfare of their nation, but with Russia’s oppressive laws governing free speech, they are being punished for trying to inform the public. Sign this petition and demand for their immediate release, as those who are trying to make our planet a better place shouldn’t be in prison.
Dear President Vladimir Putin,
I am aware of two environmental activists who are in police custody for their environmental activism. Despite what they were charged, experts around the world know that these activists were arrested for their activism. Igor Kharchenko and Yevgeny Vitishko both wanted to inform the public of the destruction caused by the construction for the games. How is that cause for punishment, especially when the government is illegally building upon protected areas of Sochi?
I demand that you release these activists at once, and pardon all previous charges that deal with their environmental efforts. The Olympics is a time when participants and civilians have the right to freedom of speech, a right that should always be granted no matter what the occasion. I am appalled that you would sentence such well meaning people, and I hope their case inspires enough support that your nation will protect activists and the environment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Carnie Lewis via Wikimedia