Target: President Vladimir Putin
Goal: Protect the rights of political activists in Russia
With the Olympic games arriving in Sochi, Russia, authorities have begun detaining activists and journalists for reporting on conditions in the country and the games. The government has specifically targeted environmental activists for protesting construction taking place in federally protected zones, exclaiming about the negative effects on the environment. Russian authorities have targeted a specific group, the Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus (EWNC) and have detained three of its members since the end of October 2013. All three of the members have been released, but it’s highly likely that they will be harassed by police officers in the near future.
One of the activists detained is Andrey Rudomakha, who is the coordinator of the group and he was arrested for a year old libel criminal case. Dmitry Shevchenko, the groups’ deputy coordinator and Evgeniy Vitishko, a member, were also arrested, detained and harassed. Rudomakha was detained by police en route to an environmental conference pertaining to the Sochi games. The libel charges were brought against Rudomakha in December 2012 when he claimed that a judge made a biased decision by sending an activist to administrative detention for protesting an election. Rudomakha thought that the investigation was forgotten because he had not been notified about the case for a year. When authorities did detain him, he was forced to sign a contract that prohibited him from leaving the region while the investigation was ongoing, thus preventing him from performing his activism efforts.
Vitishko was detained twice by police while on the road, both times accusing Vitishko of being the driver who fled the scene of a traffic accident. He denied these allegations. When he was pulled over the second time, the police took him to the police station, questioned him about the traffic accident, and then fingerprinted him.
The Olympic games allows freedom of press for journalists and activists. The Russian government should ensure that these rights are given to their citizens and foreigners alike. Sign this petition and urge the president to halt the harassment.
Dear President Vladimir Putin,
It has come to my attention that environmental activists have been harassed while preparations for the Sochi games are under way. The Olympic games ensure that journalists and activists have freedom of press and your government violates this policy by having your officers search and harass citizens and foreigners for ridiculous reasons. Environmental activists do not bring harm to your country, they are trying to protect the planet that we all live on. It is also hypocritical to detain them when they are protesting construction on federally protected zones, zones that your government created but are destroying for the Olympic games.
I ask you to stop the harassment and leave them be. These activists are championing for a cleaner environment and are not doing any harm to your country.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Gorad via flickr