SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The International Olympic Committee has asked Russian authorities to clarify why an activist who criticized the environmental impact of Olympic construction in Sochi has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Yevgeny Vitishko was sentenced Wednesday for spray-painting a fence of a property in a forest where construction is banned, according to his lawyer. Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to press Russian authorities to free him.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Thursday, "We have asked Sochi for further clarification." Sochi organizers expect a response in the next day or two. However, Adams said Vitishko's sentence involved a "matter that was not in relation to the Olympic Games."
Human Rights Watch says the case against him is politically motivated, based on his environmental group's criticism of Sochi construction.