On 8 July, about fifty people gathered on the Student Boulevard in Petrozavodsk for a mass picket “In support of the historian Yuri Dmitriev and Freedom for Political Prisoners in Russia!” Acquaintances, friends, colleagues, and those who are just concerned for the arrested leader of the Karelian ‘Memorial’ organisation, turned out with banners to protest against the prosecution of the historian.
Civil activist Andrei Litvin was the official organiser. “We have chosen a date for the picket before the next court hearing on 11 July. I would have liked more people to take part in the protest, but thanks to those who came,” Litvin told «7×7».
A well-known researcher of Stalinist repressions, the head of the Karelian branch of the ‘Memorial’ society, Yuri Dmitriev, was detained in his apartment on 13 December 2016 on suspicion of making pornographic pictures of his adopted daughter. The photos, according to the historian’s defence lawyer, were a diary of the girl’s health.
On 9 March 2017, new charges appeared: in addition to producing pornographic materials depicting minors, he was charged with Article 135 of the Russian Criminal Code (‘Non-violent sexual abuse’) and 222 (‘Illegal keeping of firearms’).
On 11 May, the court extended the term of detention of the historian until 22 October, for the duration of the trial. On 17 May, Petrozavodsk City Court held a preliminary hearing of the case. On 1 June, the trial began. On 22 June, Professor Lev Shcheglov, doctor of medical sciences, president of the National Institute of Sexology, testified in court. He assessed the examination of photographs, which formed the basis of the accusation. It was commissioned by the Centre for Socio-cultural Expertise. According to Shcheglov, there were no pornographic pictures in Dmitriev’s case.
Hundreds of people have spoken in support of Dmitriev: writers, scholars, scientists, public figures, human rights activists, journalists, musicians, artists, Orthodox priests and participants in international Days of Remembrance for victims of the Great Terror. Famous figures, such as broadcaster Dmitry Bykov, musician Boris Grebenshchikov, actor Yevgeny Tsyganov, critic Alexander Arkhangelsky, and film director Andrei Zvyagintsev, have made video messages with words of support for Dmitriev.
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