A glimpse: 2 April 2021


What an awful picture,” writes Alexander Recoubratsky. “An elderly man in handcuffs, surrounded by guards. This is no villain but the historian Yury Dmitriev who found the burial places of Stalin’s victims in Karelia as he is led to yet another, dishonourable trial. He has already spent almost five years in prison.” (Photo, Natalia Dyomina.)

Same charges, same court

For a third time Yury DMITRIEV is on trial in Petrozavodsk, before a different judge and prosecutor. There has been a second attempt to replace Yury DMITRIEV’s defence attorney Victor Anufriev.

On Friday, 2 April 2021, the third trial of Yury Dmitriev was resumed at the Petrozavodsk City Court (the proceedings were halted for several months while the Third Cassation Court in St Petersburg considered the case). Two times the Karelian High Court has rejected favourable verdicts by the court in Petrozavodsk and returned the charges for re-examination.

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An appeal to the European Court of Human Rights

Lawyers from Memorial have submitted an appeal to the court in Strasbourg, asserting that the judicial proceedings in the DMITRIEV case have violated four articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The prosecution of Yury Dmitriev, head of Memorial in Karelia, is unusual in several respects.

One, the investigation and hearings have already lasted four years. The case has stirred public interest not only in Russia but also abroad, making it one of the most discussed trials of recent years.

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Stop tormenting Yury Dmitriev

A protest on the banks of the Neva

Daniel Kotsubinsky‘s placard reads, “Let Yury Dmitriev go, Kremlin! You’ve tormented him enough!”

He stands in St Petersburg in front of one of Mikhail Shemyakin’s two sphinxes, creatures displaying a woman’s face to the roadside, a grinning skull on the side facing the Kresty Prison across the river.

The two sculptures were erected in 1995 as a memorial to the Victims of Political Repression.

Next stop, Moscow?

The Petersburg ruling

On Tuesday 16 February the Third Cassation Court in St Petersburg heard Yury DMITRIEV’s appeal against the ruling of the High Court of Karelia. The court did not uphold the appeal and left unchanged the harsh sentence of 13 years in a strict-regime penal colony. As Memorial reported, the consuls of Poland and Lithuania attended the hearing.

Victor Anufriev at the 16 February hearing (photo, Natalia Dyomina)

Afterwards Dmitriev’s lawyer Victor Anufriev told the 7×7 news website that once he had received the text of the Cassation Court’s ruling he would appeal against the decision at the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in Moscow.

“You must always look for the positive moments and this time there were two,” Anufriev told our journalist. “One, we have reached and passed this stage in the proceedings. Two, the cases have again been combined into one. This is very good. It means I  can draw up one appeal to the Supreme Court. The rest remains as before.

“As I’ve said, such a decision cannot be allowed in a law-governed State. How can I regard such a ruling if I am convinced that Yury Alexeyevich did nothing of a criminal nature? Leaving aside the rifle, of which I spoke today. My client does not deny possession; put him on trial for that firearm. All the rest has been dreamed up, the entire accusation is pure invention.”

Andrei Makarov, 7×7 news website