A protest rally in support of an imprisoned Russian ecological activist was held today in front of the Russian Embassy in Tallinn.
One of Russia’s most prominent eco-activists, an active campaigner for the conservation of Khimki forest, Evgenia Chirikova, and Evgeni Krishtafovitsh from the Centre of European Initiatives today organised the protest rally in Tallinn, in support of a Russian political prisoner, Evgeni Vitishko.
Vitishko was charged for petty crimes in Russia, from allegedly damaging a fence and swearing at a bus stop. He was convicted in June 2012 as part of a group that caused over 2,500 euros damage to property linked to the regional governor of Krasnodar, Alexander Tkachyov. Vitishko was found guilty along with another activist Suren Gazaryan. The latter managed to flee to Estonia where he was granted a political asylum.
Vitishko's advocates, however, claim that he is a prisoner of conscience, punished for exposing environmental damage around the construction of the Sochi Winter Olympics.
“You don’t need much to become a political prisoner in Russia today,” Chirikova said.
“It is more than enough if you stand up for your home and it’s surroundings, by fighting against ecologically dangerous projects in Krasnoyarsk Krai and his hometown Tuapse, like Evgeni Vitishko did,” she added.
“I’m very proud that Estonia helps politically persecuted Russian activists. We could only save Suren back at a day, but we are of course demonstrating our solidarity towards Evgeni Vitishko and we demand his immediate release,” Evgeni Krishtafovitsh, an Estonian-Russian activist said.
Representatives of EU-Russia Civil Society Forum that is currently taking place in Tallinn, and many other NGO activists also joined the protest.
Many from the member organisations and activists of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum are under constant pressure from the Russian authorities. They are being labelled as foreign agents and face a frequent harassment.