Environmentalist Andrei Zatoka arrested in Turkmenistan
Local sources report the arrest of Andrei Lvovich Zatoka, environmentalist and member of the Council of the International Social-Environmental Union, in Tashauz airport in Turkmenistan on December 17. No information on Zatoka's current whereabouts is available.
Zatoka was last heard from at 10 p.m. when he sent a "Help me" SMS to his friends. There is no saying at this point what the environmentalist was arrested for or where he is. It is only known that he was detained until December 23 ("... that's how people are detained pending the bringing of accusations against them," was how a source put it).
Zatoka was born in Sverdlovsk in 1956. He finished Urals University where he majored in biology, and moved with his family to Turkmenistan in 1982. Zatoka worked in the Kaplankyr Natural Park between 1982 and 1992. He was one of the organizers of the Dashkhovus Ecological Club and several other similar non-governmental organizations in Krasnovodsk, Ashkhabad, Karakal, and Sverdlovsk. Zatoka participated in establishment of LEEP and Biostan, two other Central Asian non-governmental organizations. He joined the International Social-Environmental Union as soon as it was founded and was elected into its Council in 1992. His friends say that "Zatoka has never meddled in politics. He doesn't drink or smoke. He is too busy with his pets to bother with anything else."