“Will we fight?” asked Yury Dmitriev. “Yes!” I answered

Dmitriev’s lawyer, Victor Anufriev, talks to Zoya Svetova about the new criminal case.


What evidence did the investigators present in court, for the court to adopt custody as the measure of restraint for your client?

Today the Petrozavodsk City Court granted the petition of the investigator, supported by the prosecutor’s office, and remanded Yury Dmitriev in custody until 28 August.

If you ask what the grounds for this decision were, I believe there were no grounds because there was no evidence whatsoever in the case materials that the investigator brought to court that Yury Dmitriev had done what was said. Grounds for suspicion, in other words, were not established today. Moreover, as always, the standard phrases were pronounced: “he might hide from the investigation”, “he might influence the victim”, “he might leave the country, because he has applied for a foreign travel passport”.

What happens now? Will there be a new examination of the first case about the preparation of pornographic photographs, and, in parallel an investigation of a new case concerning paedophilia?

I think that those behind this have a rather different aim. They would somehow like to examine the second case first in court. Then under cover of this new case they will bring back the first case.

It was impossible, after all, to convict in the first case without committing a professional crime. It’s hard to predict but, perhaps, they are trying in some way to unite the two cases. The goal, however, is to save the first case and provide a justification: they did not open the first investigation or support the charges without good reason, otherwise they must accept their responsibility. In acquitting Dmitriev, after all, the court gave him the right to rehabilitation. That’s a rarity for the Prosecutor-General’s Office. Since the case became so widely known, I think that is why they are doing all this – to save their reputation or their jobs or something else, but also the reputation of the prosecutor’s office.

How are Yury Dmitriev’s spirits now?

He is much better than during the first case: then he was arrested without any warning. Now he’s understood a great deal.

When he was carrying out his excavations he got a little out of touch with what’s going on in Russia. Now he’s worked things out and realises where he’s living and in what times. Two, he knows that even in this country you can prove something and that a lawful sentence can be passed. Therefore, he has an optimistic outlook. “Are we going to fight, Victor Mikhailovich?” he asked. “We’re going to fight.”

What can society do to help Dmitriev?

Society can help, whether someone likes it or not, because public opinion influences the thinking of the people who take one or another decision and have the authority to do so. If society says nothing, then it’s just a morass and they can do anything they like. If 30% of our population were active then, probably, such things would be impossible. Unfortunately, only 5% or, possibly, even less are active in Russia. That’s our misfortune. So, we must be active. The public must again stir itself and discuss this case. There’s no other option.

For my part I will go to work. I have prepared a list of psychologists, because we shall call psychologists and clarify how they could influence the girl and why she is saying what she did not say before. Who is this grandmother who could not educate her own daughter, a woman who moves from prison to prison, deprived of her rights as a mother, having given birth to five children. We shall find out whether the grandmother could bring up such a granddaughter, whether she could put words in her mouth, that the “child had been crushed”. We shall carry out expert assessments and I shall call specialists. I think a great battle lies ahead, but it should lead to certain results.

You are going to ask for an expert assessment of the girl’s statement?

You can’t subject the text of a statement to an expert assessment: according to our criminal-procedural legislation it is not evidence. No record of the girl’s cross-examination exists. There is her statement of 6 June when the case had not been opened. It’s not a procedural document. It’s not evidence. There is no record of the girl’s cross-examination. There is nothing in the case that would give the court grounds for arresting Dmitriev apart from the request of the investigator and the prosecutor’s office, and the article to which the investigator referred (Article 132, part 4 “sexual actions of a forcible nature”).

In other words, the case was opened on the basis of the statement by Dmitriev’s adoptive daughter?

Yes. Within the framework of the case they opened they could have cross-examined her. But they did not do so or, if they did, they are concealing the fact. In any case, they did not present this cross-examination in court. It was impossible to arrest Dmitriev on the basis of the documents presented in court.

Why then did the court uphold the petition of the investigator?

That happens in 98% of cases in Russia. Dmitriev is hardly the first, is he? There were no grounds for keeping him in custody during the first case, but he was arrested, and the court continued to prolong custody until the prosecution collapsed following the expert assessments that were carried out. Only then did the court realise that it could not go further, but must release him. That’s how things happen in this country. The investigator puts forward a petition, the prosecutor’s office supports it, and the court says, “Okay!”

Yet in spite of all this, your mood is optimistic.

Yes, we are going to fight. It’s possible to fight and, furthermore, I’m inspired by the first sentence. I understood that when we are together – I from a legal point of view, and society from a civic standpoint – we can achieve something.

MBK Media, 28 June 2018