Well-known environmentalist and civil society leader from Turkmenistan, Andrey Zatoka has been released from prison. The five-year prison sentence he received on 29 October in a politically motivated arrest and trial in Dashovuz, Turkmenistan was commuted to a $350 fine. He was also required to relinquish his Turkmen citizenship and leave Turkmenistan permanently.
“It is our common victory,” said Green Cross Russia President Sergey Baranovsky. “The Russian and international green movement has demonstrated its power. All together we are able to do much more than alone. This demonstrates that by being united, we have the opportunity to secure a safe and sustainable future.”
Andrey Zatoka was arrested on 20 October 2009 as he purchased groceries for his birthday party in a Dashovuz bazaar. A convicted drug addict attacked him but when he called for help from the police, he himself was arrested. He was then sentenced to five years in prison for assault in a trial, which failed to meet international standards, according to the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights.
Andrey Zatoka moved to Turkmenistan in 1982 in order to work in the nature reserve system. A herpetologist with a degree from the Ural State University in Russia, Zatoka co-founded the Dashovuz Ecology Club and Socio-ecological Union International. Mr. Zatoka is currently residing in Russia.