The following petition has been organised by historian Andrea Gullotta of Glasgow University (Scotland) to support the defense and secure the release of Yury DMITRIEV (Italian text):
Free Yury Dmitriev!
Historian, archaeologist and chronicler of the Gulag and Great Terror
Since the late 1980s, Yury Dmitriev has actively investigated the history of the Gulag in his native Karelia (northwest Russia).
His work on the White Sea Canal, built between 1931 and 1933 by camp prisoners and exiled peasants (“special” settlers), is invaluable and of the highest academic quality. Dmitriev has not simply researched the history of forced labour: he has also compiled several Books of Remembrance, recording the names of thousands who died in the camps or were shot and buried by the Soviet regime in Karelia.
As leader of archaeological expeditions seeking the killing fields of Stalin’s Great Terror, Dmitriev has located several sites of mass execution and burial. In July 1997, with Veniamin Joffe (Iofe) and Irina Flige of St Petersburg Memorial, he found the largest of them all, Sandormokh near Medvezhegorsk, where more than 7,000 victims of Stalin’s Great Terror were shot and buried in unmarked graves in 1937 and 1938.
Two hundred prominent Russians have come out in defence of Russian historian of the Soviet Terror, Yury Dmitriev, and the child whose life the FSB is destroying for the sake of a grubby and politically-motivated trial. They express distrust in the official position taken by the prosecution and the unlawful methods being used, including the pressure being exerted on Dmitriev’s adopted daughter.
The authors of the appeal, posted on 28 October, point out that Dmitriev had been arrested initially on ‘child pornography’ charges pertaining to photos securely stored in his computer and detailing the young girl’s weight, height, etc. over the years that her physical development after the orphanage had aroused concern. The defence had brought in highly qualified experts and with the publicity that the case had aroused both in Russia and abroad, he was acquitted on 5 April 2018.
Acquittals are virtually unheard of in Russia, and it was feared from the outset that the aim was merely to deflect unfavourable publicity and then overturn the acquittal. This is effectively what happened. Dmitriev was remanded in custody again on 28 June 2018, just two weeks after a court revoked his acquittal on the first evidently flawed charges and ordered a retrial.