Politically-motivated excavations

Russia has turned to politically-motivated excavations to rewrite the history of the USSR in the late 1930s, writes Halya Coynash, after jailing a major historian of Stalin’s Great  Terror yet again.

(left) Sandarmokh — “People, do not kill one another”
(right) Yury DMITRIEV, acquitted in April 2018, now in custody once again

A new attempt to rewrite the history of the Great Terror in the Soviet Union appears to be under way in Russia. This renewed offensive is ominously linked with the re-arrest and imprisonment on fabricated charges of Yury Dmitriev, a world-renowned historian and the head of the Memorial Society in Karelia.

Dmitriev and colleagues from Memorial played a key role in uncovering and identifying the mass graves in eastern Karelia that have since become known as Sandarmokh. Unsubstantiated claims that Sandarmokh could hold the graves of “thousands” of Red Army soldiers taken prisoner by the Finnish Army in 1941-1943 have coincided, over the last two years, with attacks on both Dmitriev and Memorial.

Despite the lack of any hard evidence, and pleas from the children and grandchildren of those whose remains lie buried at Sandarmokh, Russia’s Military History Society has begun to carry out excavations at the site.

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Dmitriev’s mental state has been carefully assessed. Yet again …

As part of the new investigation, Yury Dmitriev was sent to Hospital No 6 in St Petersburg where psychiatrists have been determining whether he is fit to stand trial and has not taken leave of his senses …

On Wednesday, 8 August, he was released from ward No 8 and will now return to Karelia and Detention Centre No 1 in Petrozavodsk. During this period in Petersburg Dmitriev was visited by his daughter Katya, his confessor Grigory Mikhnov-Vaitenko and his lawyer Victor Anufriev, who secured his release in January this year and his acquittal after the trial in April.

Every day of the week, apart from Wednesday, Dmitriev’s supporters have been bringing brought him parcels of food, cigarettes, etc. and making donations to the hospital library: he couldn’t receive books directly, but might take them out of the library if they were there. Around forty people took part in this form of support.

On Thursday, people went to check whether he was now at the Kresty Prison in Petersburg. Dmitriev would pass through the prison before being transported back to Karelia and Detention Centre No 1.

Tatiana Kosinova
the Dmitriev Affair page on Facebook
(which presently has over 4,900 followers)

Kosinova is the founder and general director
of the Cog!ta publishing house