FREE YURY DMITRIEV! (Petition)

Join thousands of others and sign the petition

To the Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Karelian Republic Anatoly Vladimirovich Nakvas

On 23 March 2020, Yury DMITRIEV, who is being held in a detention facility in Petrozavodsk, was sentenced to remain under arrest for three more months. This means that the peak of the growing coronavirus epidemic will find him in a prison cell. 

Yury Dmitriev is 64 years old. He has spent the last three years of his life behind bars, although no one has ever proven him guilty. Quite the opposite: in April of 2018, the court issued a non-guilty verdict on the main charges against him. But new charges, a new investigation, and a new court case have now been underway for almost two years. Yury Alekseevich’s health has already been severely impacted: he felt ill all of last fall and into the winter, and this February he had a bad cold which has left him very weak. 

We ask that you take the current emergency situation into account and change his custody requirement from pretrial imprisonment to house arrest, effective immediately and remaining in force until his court case is over. 

This petition was launched in Russian in late March. It has been published and signed in French, German, Italian, Hebrew, English, Polish and Czech.

You can sign the petition here.

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“He’s facing things bravely, but hopes for justice”

Yury DMITRIEV’s second trial, like the first, is being held behind closed doors. His lawyer Victor Anufriev recently provided his view of the case in the longest interview he has given to the media since early last year. (The second trial began in September 2018.)

The interviewer was Katerina Gordeyeva (Meduza).

Gordeyeva — Two years have passed since the Petrozavodsk City Court acquitted Yury DMITRIEV of the two most serious charges and gave him a two-year suspended sentence for “Illegal possession of a firearm”. Yet Dmitriev is still in the detention centre. What happened?

Anufriev — After the acquittal the prosecutor’s office, invoking its procedural rights, applied to the Supreme Court for the verdict to be annulled. I also submitted an appeal, for that part of the verdict which concerned the firearm, to be annulled.

As a result, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Karelia annulled the entire verdict, satisfying the appeal by the prosecutor’s office and my appeal. The case was returned for further examination.

And it was during this re-examination of the case that the new charges appeared?

Yes, on 9 September 2018 the two cases were combined as one investigation.

What was new to the case?

Dmitriev was accused of another, more serious, crime. He could now face a total of up to 20 years’ imprisonment. He is charged under four Articles of the RF Criminal Code:

  • 135, part 3: “Perverted Actions of a Sexual Character against a minor”;
  • 242.2, part 2: “Use of a Minor for the Purposes of Preparing Pornography”;
  • 222: “Illegal Acquisition, Transfer, Sale, Storage, Transportation, or Bearing of Firearms, Its Basic Parts, Ammunition, Explosives, and Explosive Devices”;
  • 132, part 4: “Violent Actions of a Sexual Character against Someone who has not reached the Age of Fourteen”.

Victor Anufriev

The charge that Dmitriev was in illegal possession of a firearm — one that did not work, incidentally, and for which Dmitriev had a permit — has not disappeared.

Of the new charges the main accusation is of violent sexual activities. There was no such accusation in 2016, when the case began.

There was not.

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Release detainees before they become infected

In view of the expanding Corona virus epidemic, Russian lawyers are calling for many held by the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) to be released. One obvious candidate, almost continuously imprisoned since December 2016, is Yury DMITRIEV. At the last hearing in his slow-moving trial his detention in custody was extended until the end of June.

In an article in the widely-read Moskovsky komsomolets daily paper, lawyer Alexander Pikhovkin says that the FPS is lagging behind society as a whole and should start releasing detainees and some of its half-million prisoners.

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“The Moscow section of the Federal Penitentiary Service is refusing to accept any new inmates in its detention centres,” writes Pikhovkin.

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“Light in the Darkness” (I)

This website has already published two excerpts from Irina Flige’s 2019 book about Sandarmokh: the Search for Sandarmokh, parts One and Part Two. What follows is the opening of a review in the January 2020 issue of Novy mir, the literary magazine (Moscow).

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“Two themes run through Irina Flige’s book,” writes Tatyana Bonch-Osmolovskaya. “One is the quest, pursued across many years, for the ‘lost transport’, a search to locate 1,111 inmates of the Solovki Special Prison who vanished in October 1937.”

The other theme, which “embraces and deepens the first”, describes Sandarmokh today, as a place of commemoration and remembrance.

The lost transport

For years researchers, among them Flige herself, sought documents explaining where the “lost transport” had gone and identifying the place where those victims of the Great Terror were buried. In a small clearing in the Karelian forest is a place where executions were regularly carried out. Not just the “lost transport” died there, but also prisoners of the BelBaltlag Camp complex, forced settlers and inhabitants of Karelia. Working with records in closed archives the researchers — Irina Flige, Veniamin Joffe and Yury Dmitriev, among others — restored the names of the victims.

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Sergei Koltyrin has died

The former director of the Medvezhegorsk City Museum, Sergei KOLTYRIN, died yesterday in the town’s prison hospital. His brother Vladimir passed the news to the Sever.Realii website.

“He died last night,” said Koltyrin’s brother. “He had cancer. That’s all I can tell you. He wasn’t in the ordinary hospital but the other one and, as they told me, it’s not exactly the place you’d send children on vacation. They’ll write what they like in his death certificate.”

The republican department of the Investigative Committee confirmed the news of the historian’s death. As soon as they receive the papers from the Federal Penitentiary Service, they commented, they will begin to check what happened.

Radio Liberty, 2 April 2020 (in Russian)

In May 2019, Sergei Koltyrin was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment in a corrective labour colony. For other news items and reports about his case — https://dmitrievaffair.com/tag/sergei-koltyrin/