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Civil Activist Arrested Near Sochi Ahead Of Olympics

Russian environmental activist Yevgeny Vitishko
Russian environmental activist Yevgeny Vitishko
TUAPSE, Russia -- A well-known civil society activist has been arrested in the Russian city of Tuapse, part of the Sochi area where the Winter Olympics will take place.

Yevgeny Vitishko is a member of the regional group Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus, which has been a vocal critic of the massive construction ahead of the Olympic Games.

His lawyer, Aleksandr Popkov, told RFE/RL that his client was detained on theft charges on February 3.

Vitishko was handed a three-year suspended prison sentence in 2012 for the "deliberate destruction of property."

In December, a court in Tuapse ruled that Vitishko should serve three years in prison for violating parole.

His appeal hearing was reportedly scheduled for February 22.

Amnesty International condemned his detention on February 3 and expressed concern that Vitishko will be sent to a penal colony.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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