Emile Affolter, Press Officer at Amnesty International Netherlands, blogs from Sochi
Just a couple of days before the Winter Olympic Games start in Sochi, an activist was arrested. Sadly, such arrests are not unusual in Russia, but the timing of this particular arrest sent a chilling message across Russian civil society.
The environmentalist Yevgeny Vitishko was planning on traveling to Sochi today but was stopped by police, convicted of “petty hooliganism” and sentenced to 15 days in administrative detention. His crime? According to Russian authorities he cursed while standing at a bus stop.
When I heard the news about Vitishko's arrest I was in the middle of a conversation with Semyon Simonov. A lawyer for the human rights organization Memorial in Sochi, he defends the rights of migrant workers.