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IOC: Activist Not Jailed for Olympic Criticism

Yevgeny Vitishko was sentenced earlier this week for spray-painting a fence on a property in a forest, but it has been assured that his intentions were not Sochi related.

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    Mikhail Mordasov/AFP/Getty Images
    Picture taken on December 28, 2013, shows Environmental Watch ecology group activist Yevgeny Vitishko, standing in front of the new road between Adler and Krasnaya Polyana in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Speaking on the wrecked habitat and destroyed wildlife populations, the consequences of the road construction for the Sochi Winter Games, Vitishko said the rugged topography of the area had required a system of tunnels and bridges for the road and rail network. "About 15 years" would have been needed for proper study and building, he told AFP.

    The International Olympic Committee says it's has been assured that a Russian activist's three-year prison sentence was not related to his criticism of the environmental impact of Olympic construction in Sochi.

    The IOC had asked for clarification after Yevgeny Vitishko was sentenced earlier this week for spray-painting a fence on a property in a forest where construction is banned. Vitishko had been critical of the Olympic construction projects in Sochi and Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to press Russian authorities to free him.

    But Adams says Russian authorities assured the IOC that Vitishko's punishment was "not games-related." Adams says the IOC has been told that Vitishko was given a suspended sentence for vandalizing a house three years ago and that suspension was broken when Vitishko spray-painted the fence.