In his acceptance speech at the 2014 Goldman Prize ceremony, Prize winner Suren Gazaryan told the story of his colleague Evgeny Vitishko, an environmental activist from Russia who was sentenced to three years in a penal colony for his role in exposing illegal construction in a national forest and speaking openly about the environmental impact of the Sochi Olympic Games' construction.
Gazaryan, who was awarded the Prize for exposing government corruption and illegal exploitation of federally protected forestland along Russia’s Black Sea coast, was forced to flee to Estonia to avoid arrest.
In his speech, Gazaryan appealed to the audience to show their support for Vitishko by following the Free Vitishko movement on Facebook, concluding with “freedom for Evgeny Vitishko and other environmental activists!”
Since that time, several Goldman Prize winner have responded to Gazaryan’s appeal – posting video messages affirming their support for Vitishko and calling on the Russian government for his immediate and unconditional release.
“As Goldman Prize winners, it is our job to speak the truth to authority,” said 2013 Goldman Prize winner Jonathan Deal in his video.
“He is like me,” 2010 Prize winner Randall Arauz told to his followers, “protecting the planet for present and future generation. Environmental activism in NOT a crime.”
To find out more about Evgeny Vitishko and for ways you can help, please visit the Free Vitishko website by CLICKING HERE.