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Imprisoned Russian Environmental Activist Starts Hunger Strike

A Russian activist who was jailed after raising concern about the environmental impact of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi has gone on a hunger strike.

The Environmental Watch on North Caucasus, a nongovernmental organization focusing on the southern Russian region where the Sochi Games were held, said that Yevgeny Vitishko began a hunger strike on April 7 to protest the Supreme Court's refusal to consider his appeal on March 20.

Vitishko was initially handed a three-year suspended sentence in 2012 for spray-painting the fence of a property in a forest where construction was banned.

But In December 2013, a court in the city of Tuapse ruled that he had violated the terms of the sentence and sent him to prison.

A higher court upheld that decision in February 2014.

The prominent Moscow-based human rights group Memorial considers Vitishko a political prisoner, and Amnesty International has named him a "prisoner of conscience."

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

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