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:
— 132, part 4(b) : “Violent Actions of a Sexual Character against Someone who has not reached the Age of Fourteen”;
— 135, part 3: “Perverted Actions of a Sexual Character against a minor”;
— 226: “Illegal Acquisition, Transfer, Sale, Storage, Transportation, or Bearing of Firearms, Its Basic Parts, Ammunition, Explosives, and Explosive Devices”;
— 242.2, part 2: “Use of a Minor for the Purposes of Preparing Pornography”.
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.
Where did this accusations come from?
When the prosecution did not agree with the acquittal of Dmitriev they submitted an appeal. And since that time, they assert, they obtained new testimony and proof that was added to the case files. That was how the new, most serious charge was added [132, part 4, “Violent Actions of a Sexual Character against Someone under the Age of Fourteen”] and it is now being tested in court. This crime has made the trial a graver undertaking and is the reason that the measure of restraint imposed on Yury Alexeyevich was changed [from a signed guarantee not to leave Petrozavodsk] to a return to pre-trial custody at the detention centre.
Dmitriev, let me add, has now been in the detention centre for several years and continuously since summer 2018. He has had colds several times and has problems with his respiratory system. Yury Dmitriev is 64, a middle-aged and not very healthy man; he is being held in the detention centre, sharing a cell with others, and is deprived of the chance to take a walk and breathe fresh air. This is extremely dangerous, given the pandemic conditions in Russia.
Recently a petition of civil activists appeared on the internet, demanding that Dmitriev be placed under house arrest. As of today, about 8,000 people have signed the petition. This is a just demand and I support it. Dmitriev does not intend to go into hiding, he has a greater interest than anyone else in a fair investigation of the case; it is important for him to prove his innocence and get back to his work.
In summer 2018, Dmitriev signed a commitment not to leave Petrozavodsk and then he violated that commitment. There were even rumours that he intended to leave the country. How does that square with what you are saying, that he has no intention of going into hiding?
The information that Yury Alexeyevich intended to hide proved false. The people spreading the rumour did not know what they were talking about. Dmitriev doesn’t even have a foreign-travel passport and has never possessed one. He applied for a passport because he has many times been invited to international conferences, but his application was turned down. I spoke in his place at several of those events.