Moscow is preparing to intervene in the case of Andrei Zatoka, an environmentalist sentenced to five years in prison on October 29 in Turkmenistan.
Zatoka holds dual Turkmen-Russian citizenship. A court in Dashoguz imposed the maximum possible sentence on him following a closed trial in which he was found guilty of assaulting a stranger in a market in October 20. Human rights advocates contend the incident was a police set-up.
Ella Pamfilova, the head of Russia's Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, told the Vremya newspaper that work is under way to secure Zatoka's transfer to Russia. "The Council [. . . ] is making maximum efforts to have Andrei Zatoka [released] to Russia. This will be difficult. But we hope that together with all the interested Russian state departments we can help him," she was quoted as saying on October 30.
Andrei Ivakhin, first secretary at Russia's Embassy in Ashgabat, added senior diplomats were "personally taking care" of Zatoka's case. "All measures are being taken to protect [Zatoka]," he told Vremya.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch issued a statement calling for Zatoka's immediate release, saying the legal proceedings in Turkmenistan violated "international fair trial standards."