Next court hearing, 27 February

The Dmitriev case, together with the results of his Serbsky Institute assessment, has been returned to Petrozavodsk City Court.  The next hearing is scheduled for 27 February, at 10.30 am. “It is important to come to court that day, to support Yury Dmitriev and to show that public interest in his case has not weakened,” commented page administrator Daniil Saksonov.

Russian supporters’ Facebook page
8 February 2018

Court upholds Bochkareva’s right to apartment

On Monday, 19th February, the Primorsky (Maritime) district court in the Archangelsk Region ruled in favour of OLGA BOCHKAREVA in her dispute with the director of the Solovki Museum, Archimandrite Porfiry (Vladimir Shutov).

Bochkareva wins case

Olga Bochkareva (right) with her lawyer Marina Agaltsova outside the courthouse

This confirms her right of ownership to the two-room apartment where she and her daughter currently live: Bochkareva does not own or have any other place to live.

In a commentary on the result, defense attorney Marina Agaltsova noted that the statute of limitation for any challenge to the contract transferring the apartment to Bochkareva had already expired. A counter-claim advanced by Bochkareva and her lawyer concerned State registration of the contract documenting the transfer of the property.

That application was greatly helped, commented Agaltsova, by the prosecutor who supported Bochkareva’s argument. The prosecutor applied to the Register and received confirmation that no approval by the Ministry of Culture was required at the time the contract was concluded in 2011.

Since the late 1980s Bochkareva has been a research associate at the Solovki Museum. In 2016, however, the Gulag section at the Museum was closed and she lost her job.

The coalition of human-rights activists
19 February 2018

Head of Museum’s disbanded Gulag section threatened with eviction

Attempts are being made to turn OLGA BOCHKAREVA out of the accommodation transferred into her private ownership in 2011 by the Solovki Museum administration.

Bochkareva, Olga

Olga Bochkareva

On 1 January 2016, the Gulag section at the museum was disbanded and its head, Olga Bochkareva, was dismissed from her post. Тhe present museum director, Vladimir V. Shutov, who is, simultaneously, Father Superior of the Solovetsky Monastery [as Archimandrite Porfiry], has now asked the courts to declare the 2011 agreement null and void. The case is being examined by the Maritime district court  of the Arkhangelsk Region. A decision is expected on Monday, 19 February. Bochkareva is being represented by defence attorney Marina Agaltsova.

Since 1988, Olga Bochkareva has researched the history of the Solovki special purpose camp and run the museum’s section about the Gulag. She created a permanent exhibition about the camp (and prison) in one of the former camp barracks in Solovetsky town. Over the years she has provided advice and information to relatives of those imprisoned in the camp and helped them track down documents concerning their loved ones.

The coalition of human rights activists
16 February 2018

I’m trying to finish what’s most important

Yury Dmitriev in his own words
(conclusion)

I first met students from the Moscow Film School, it seems, at Sandarmokh. They had come for the Day of Remembrance on 5 August. As it happened, one of the buses I’d laid on was empty and they travelled on it to the graveyard and back. They were greatly impressed and began asking me about local history.

Later they wrote me a letter: “Let us help you in some way.” I took up the offer and we went to Peter the Great’s arms factory. The next year they said: “We’d like to help again.” We worked at the Badger’s Hill graveyard. They wanted to help again, and that’s when we started going to Solovki.

Dmitriev with Film School students

Yury Dmitriev with Moscow Film School students

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Dead or living, they’re the same nation

Yury Dmitriev in his own words

“Sandarmokh means something special to me. It’s where I’ve put into practice several other tasks I set myself.

“I’d like the people living in Karelia to feel that they are part of a nation, and not just the population. Belonging to a nation means you know your own history, language, culture and traditions. The population is anything that shows signs of life. To govern a nation, you must know and respect its customs, traditions and codes of behaviour; the population can be managed anyway you like. A nation can’t be herded about, it will stand its ground. The population is easy and simple to direct. To stand firm and survive this uncertain period, so that those in charge are replaceable, they are elected, we need to educate our nation.

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A third of the population …

When YURY DMITRIEV was arrested, he was finishing work on a book that had taken nine years to research. It would contain thousands of names, he explained, in a January 2016 interview:

“I’m now putting together a book that will contain the names of those deported to  ‘build socialism’ in Karelia from almost every other part of the USSR: Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, the Volga Region, the Urals and beyond – there was even one person from the Far East, from Kamchatka. There are more than 64,000 names in my list.

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It was all preparation for what I do now

  Yury Dmitriev in his own words

Did I ever want to give up? Sometimes, when there was no food at home and work on the execution lists and burial sites took up all my time. By then I was no longer an aide to a people’s deputy.

Dmitriev, black & white

Yury Dmitriev (photo, Sophia Pankevich)

I made some attempts to get a job as an editor.

“Of course, such a book is needed. We’ve set up an editorial group,” they told me: “you’re the editor, now get on with it.”

“Come on,” I said. “I need a salary, it doesn’t need to be a big one … I’ve got to pay for the apartment, for electricity, and a few other things.”

“Be patient for a month or two. We’ll think of something and find you a place on the payroll.”

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We must be able to find something

 Yury Dmitriev in his own words

“In 1997 I met Veniamin Joffe and Irina Flige from Petersburg Memorial at the FSB archives in Karelia. We agreed to look for the site near Medvezhyegorsk where executions took place.

“Joffe and Flige were on the track of the missing transport from Solovki special prison. They began their search after reading the case file of NKVD Captain Mikhail Matveyev, who oversaw the shooting of the Solovki prisoners in autumn 1937. From reading all the execution reports I knew that an enormous number of people, several thousand in all, had been shot somewhere near Medgora. So, we agreed on a date. If I remember rightly, we arrived there on 1 July and on 2 or 3 July we had already discovered the place [Sandarmokh]. I would be stuck there for ages. The official investigative procedures continued for two whole months.

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In the archives

Yury Dmitriev in his own words

“Then I became an aide to Ivan Chukhin, a deputy of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet [and the State Duma, 1990-1995]. He was a lieutenant-colonel in the police, a psychologist.

Ivan Chukhin (1948-1997)

Ivan Chukhin (1948-1997)

“Around that time, it was decided to compile a Book of Remembrance for Karelia. That’s to say, Memorial and Pertti Martelius were already on the job, but Chukhin  wanted to put the work on a sounder footing.

“He brought back a 1938 document from Moscow in which the Karelian People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs reported how many people had been shot in the republic, with lists of names: who, where and how. Memorial in Moscow made Ivan a set of cards with the basic information from that report. “You’re going to sit in the archives”, Chukhin told me, “and fill out these cards, in a form that we shall determine”. That’s how I first encountered that kind of work. Continue reading

“Let’s cover them up again”

Yury Dmitriev in his own words

“For me it all began in the late 1980s. I’d heard that people had been ‘repressed’, but, somehow, we didn’t speak about it in our family. It turned out later that my mother’s father was dekulakised and sent to work on the White Sea Canal.

young Dmitriev

Yury Dmitriev (1980s)

“My other grandfather was arrested in 1938 and died in the camps. He was an accountant on a collective farm and he caught it in the neck. Papa only confessed this to me in 1991 when we were coming back from the first funeral I organised for the victims of repression.  Continue reading

Japanese daily’s two items about Dmitriev

The mass-circulation Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun opened a series of 80 articles to mark the centenary of the October 1917 Revolution with two items (25-26 October 2017) concerning the Dmitriev Affair: “The prisoners who disappeared. Over five days 1,111 people were shot in the forest” and “The historian who discovered where the victims of Stalin were buried is himself being persecuted”.

Russian supporters’ Facebook page,
10 February 2018