SOCHI, Russia (AP) — An activist who has been monitoring environmental fallout from the Sochi Olympics has been jailed for five days for resisting police, apparently part of a continuing harassment campaign against local activists.
Igor Kharchenko was grabbed on the street in the regional capital of Krasnodar late Tuesday afternoon as he left his house and found his car smashed, an associate, Olga Soldatova, said Wednesday. Police charged him with resisting police orders. Soldatova, who was with him at the police station, said Kharchenko was given a blank sheet of paper instead of a protocol sanctioning his detention.
Kharchenko was put on trial behind closed doors Wednesday and sentenced to five days in jail for disobeying police orders.
"They were leading Kharchenko out, and he told us he got 5 days, without a proper trial, lawyer or witnesses," said Soldatova, who was at the courthouse.
Like Yevgeny Vitishko, who was jailed Monday for swearing in public, Kharchenko is a member of the Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus, a group that has been monitoring the environmental effects of Olympic construction.
Activists have been raising concerns for months about an apparent campaign of intimidation and harassment of activists and journalists in the Sochi area.
Human Rights Watch said the harassment campaign against the local activists does not deal with the problems that the activists have uncovered but only dampens Russia's image abroad.
"Vitishko's imprisonment on trumped-up charges, and his colleagues' arbitrary detentions and vicious harassment, are more damaging to Russia's 'Olympic host' reputation than any criticism they could have voiced," the group's Russian coordinator, Tanya Lokshina, said in a statement Tuesday.