Motion denied (twice)

The latest court hearing in the case of YURY DMITRIEV, head of Memorial in Karelia, took place at the Petrozavodsk City Court on Wednesday and Thursday, 29 and 30 November.

After a month of waiting, during which the new expert assessment of the photographic evidence was supposedly being prepared, it was learned that the work was still not complete. A defence petition for better qualified forensic experts to take on this task was turned down by the court on Thursday, 30 November.

At Wednesday’s hearing Dmitriev’s lawyer, defence attorney VICTOR ANUFRIEV, petitioned for a change in the measure of restraint for his client during the trial, from custody to a guarantee not to leave the country [surrender of his foreign travel passport] or to house arrest. Judge Nosova rejected the petition.

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New assessment of evidence will not be ready before mid-December

The new assessment of the photographs that constitute the main evidence against Yury Dmitriev will not be ready until mid-December, his attorney Victor Anufriev told journalists after today’s court hearing. This also affects any decision about the future measure of restraint for the Gulag researcher who is now entering his 12th month in custody.  Tomorrow the court will hear a defence petition to allocate the assessment to a more competent and legitimate body. Continue reading

“Why is Yury Dmitriev on trial?” RFI interviews Irina Flige (excerpt)

“Your colleague, Yury Dmitriev, is now on trial in Karelia,” asks Radio France Internationale interviewer. “Many link the prosecution to his work for Memorial. What’s your view?”

Well, everything in this world is connected, but sometimes there are direct links. In this case that is not exactly true. It would not be correct to say that Yury Dmitriev was looking, with us, for the Sandarmokh burial ground, that he took part in the Days of Remembrance there, and that is why he was arrested.

Irina Flige (RFI)

Irina Flige, director of the Memorial Research and Information Centre (St Petersburg)

What we can say, today, is that there is no case against him — he has committed no crime. His friends, acquaintances and colleagues know that; so does his defence attorney who has examined the case files in detail. Without doubt, Yury Dmitriev is a political prisoner. That is not only our opinion. It is the view of all his supporters, those 30,000 and more who signed the petition submitted to the court.

Someone issued instructions that Dmitriev be put on trial. As often happens, we do not know who is behind the charges and how the case took shape. As always with political trials, however, what triggered this case will sooner or later become public knowledge.

For the full text of the interview,
see Rights in Russia No 36 (269), 27 November 2017

Stalin’s long shadow

“In March 1953, after Stalin’s death, the chief editor of the weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta Konstantin Simonov wrote that the main task of Soviet literature henceforth would be to understand Stalin’s role in Russian history. He had no idea how right he would be!” writes Alexander Cherkasov.

“It was literature that fostered the growth of interest in history at the end of the 1980s: memoirs and fiction, from Shalamov and Solzhenitsyn to Iskander and Rybakov; works published internally as samizdat and as tamizdat abroad that later spilled onto the pages of the literary journals of the perestroika era. The time for historians would come later.” Continue reading

The man saving us all

“There are lives that seem remarkable, but if you look closely, you’ll see that another could have done as well,” writes Russian author Sergei Lebedev. “There are lives, however, that are an ideal fit. You can’t imagine anyone else doing the same. Yury Dmitriev is one of those.

“Journalists have called him Khottabych (or even Gandalf), a wizard or a folk hero. At first this seemed amusing and appropriate. Yet at some point it ceased to be helpful: it was as though the writers themselves weren’t sure what to do with Dmitriev — where to place him, how to describe him.”  Continue reading

Detention Centre No 1

“I have experienced for myself what those imprisoned in the late 1930s were feeling. Now I know the words to convey their pain, indignation and hurt, the bitterness of separation from their dear ones. Now I know how dispiriting it is, this waiting: ‘They’ll sort things out and let me go — I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.’

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