What We’ve Uncovered [2]

<< THE SECOND TRIAL >>

Part One, Novaya gazeta, 13 July 2020 [E]

The child’s voice failed to be heard not just by the chairman of Petrozavodsk City Council Bondarchuk, while the court heard the girl’s statement about how much she loved her adoptive father.

As for unlawful threat to privacy, the Karelian children’s ombudsman Sarayev did not, for some reason, try to sue Rossiya TV or REN TV channels for broadcasting the photos from the “health diary” to the entire country.

In short, local officials requested the continued persecution of DMITRIEV. After that nothing stood in the way of executing the ready-made scenario.

What the victim says

The statement of the allegations was written by the grandmother. At the evidence session she said how after DMITRIEV’s acquittal in early April 2018 she read in the TVR-Panorama newspaper that the historian wants the child back in his care. There was indeed such a report in TVR-Panorama. There is no quote from Dmitriev about the girl, but there is the author’s commentary: “As Dmitriev’s family says, this case will only end when the historian gets his foster daughter back.”

The grandmother gave the article to her granddaughter to read and claims that the girl said: “I want to write a statement about Dmitriev, if I tell them everything about him, they’ll jail him for 30 years!”

Literally one week earlier, friends from the Moscow International Film School were in touch with Dmitriev’s foster daughter, as usual.

Students from the Film School are the historian’s old friends, they were the first to make a noise when he was arrested, they found him a lawyer and launched a campaign in his support. And it was through Dmitriev that his foster daughter made friends with the Film School students. One of them, Sasha Kononova, said that on that occasion also the girl was warm and friendly. But in early April, straight after the acquittal, she abruptly cut off contact.

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What We’ve Uncovered [1]

Nikita GIRIN
13 July 2020 Novaya gazeta [R]

A DISCLAIMER
with Roskomnadzor [the Communications Oversight Agency] in mind

SUMMARY

  • The historian Yury DMITRIEV was accused of touching his foster daughter’s genital area on several occasions;
  • At the age of eight the girl suffered episodes of involuntary urination (enuresis);
  • DMITRIEV touched the child’s genital area to check if her underwear was dry when he could smell urine, after which he took his daughter to have a wash;
  • The diagnosis of enuresis was supported by hospital release notes;
  • Three psychiatric investigations concluded that DMITRIEV displayed no sexually deviant tendencies;
  • Linguistic experts from the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of the Russian Language analysed the texts of the girl’s interrogation and attested to communicative pressure applied by the investigator. A Moscow University professor analysed the texts of the girl’s conversations with a psychologist and believed that the girl’s statements concerning DMITRIEV’s actions did not display the criteria typical of recollections of a traumatic experience.
  • The success of the prosecution in the Dmitriev case appears to correspond to the career moves of Anatoly Seryshev, former head of the FSB in Karelia.

Yury DMITRIEV (photo Tomasz Kizny)

I am finishing this text in Yury Dmitriev’s flat, in the room that used to belong to his foster daughter. The shelves still hold several of her toys, her story books, and school notebooks. From the window you can see her school, with sleepless seagulls crying above; night trains pass close by and seem to hoot in reply.

Dmitriev is confined to the old castle in the very centre of Petrozavodsk. The detention centre is surrounded by good restaurants and pleasant views, but his prison offers different kinds of entertainment. In mid-April 2019, two cellmates spent several days trying to persuade the historian to make a confession to the investigators. If he didn’t, they threatened to “degrade” (i.e. sodomise) him. Dmitriev contacted the centre’s management. If he was attacked he would defend himself, he explained, and not be responsible for the consequences. They transferred him to a different cell.

The incident says something about the quality of evidence in the case.

Second Arrest, June 2018

Dmitriev contributed, in part, to his second arrest. After his acquittal was annulled in June 2018, the Supreme Court of Karelia imposed a travel ban, forbidding Dmitriev to leave Petrozavodsk. On 27 June, however, the historian and a neighbour decided to visit their acquaintance’s grave in New Vilga, a village a few kilometres outside the city limits, and then go to pray at the Alexandro-Svirsky monastery in the Leningrad Region, 160 kms away.

Dmitriev consulted his lawyer. Victor Anufriev strictly forbade him to travel without the court’s permission. The court had already allowed Dmitriev to go to Moscow in May to collect a prize from the Moscow Helsinki Group for his historic contribution to the defence of human rights and to the human rights movement. A stubborn and self-reliant man, Dmitriev listened to his lawyer and then went anyway. A half-day trip out of Petrozavodsk was no big deal, he thought, since he had already travelled to the capital for a few days.

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Last Words

In his last words to the court on 8 July DMITRIEV explained his own background and how this influenced his work and his decision to adopt three-year-old Natasha. (Text first published by Meduza.)

This is already the second time I’ve made a closing statement in this endless trial. And I’d like to clarify my position, if it isn’t already clear to the court, as to why I am the man I am, why I act as I do, and why I ended up in this cage.

Your honor, I have made it plain that I am perhaps not an entirely ordinary person like most others. What I mean is, I was born a healthy, normal person, but I didn’t know my biological parents, where they were from and of what nationality, to what faith or culture they adhered. And this has fueled in me a great search for my own roots. I’ve been trying to find them for more than thirty years, so far without much success, but I think I’ll get to the truth of all this someday — I’ll find out what blood courses through my veins and what genes animate me. That is why, as a child adopted when he was one and a half, the subject of abandoned children is dear to me, something I feel as a personal experience.

Yury DMITRIEV at liberty in 2018
(photo by Vladimir Larionov, Reuters)

Yes, many crave to learn their own roots. Why? To find out which culture you belong to. Now, I’m not saying I’m a descendant of some princely line. What matters is to understand which people claim me as a son. What separates human beings from insects — from butterflies or beetles — is the fact that we have memory. And this memory of our ancestors, preferably going back seven generations or more, makes you more independent in your judgments, and it allows you to draw better conclusions because the memory of generations is concentrated in you. I lack such knowledge, unfortunately, which is why I strive for it.

Why am I saying all this? So that you can understand the motives that guided my actions, your honor, when I took in another child who had lost her parents and guardians. Whatever obstacles we faced (created out of thin air, at the request of one or two officials) they weren’t so insurmountable as to prevent my wife and I welcoming the child into our family. […]

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Three years, 6 months

On Wednesday, 22 July 2020, in a damp and windy Petrozavodsk, Victor Anufriev briefly addressed a large crowd of journalists and cameramen and women outside the City Court. According to BELSAT journalist Marina Makarova he indicated that his client Yury DMITRIEV had been found guilty and sentenced to three years six months’ imprisonment.

Taking into account the length of time DMITRIEV has already spent in detention centre No 1 in Petrozavodsk this means that he will be released on 12 November. Anufriev later specified that the sentence referred only to the charge of sexual abuse. (See 22 July report by Halya Coynash of the Kharkov Human Rights Group.)

At the end of the trial, earlier this month, the prosecution demanded 15 years’ imprisonment for Yury DMITRIEV in a strict regime penal colony.

Yury DMITRIEV is led into court (31 October 2019)

In an interview with the BBC, Petersburg attorney Mikhail Utkin called the sentence “unprecedented”: the minimum term specified in Article 132 is 12 years’ imprisonment.

Details emerge of the brutal persecution of Dmitriev and his daughter Natasha

Halya Coynash

The verdict is due tomorrow in what a huge number of prominent Russians have called one of the grubbiest political trials in the country. Modern Russia has long been imprisoning people for their civic position or beliefs, but the case of renowned historian of the Terror and Memorial activist, Yury DMITRIEV, stands out for the brutal use of a child to try to destroy both the historian and his reputation.

Trumped-up “child pornography” charges in the first trial were demolished by experts and, in the face of national and international condemnation, led to an initial acquittal. Law enforcement bodies came back for more. After unwarrantedly getting the acquittal revoked, they reinstated the initial indictment , while adding grotesque charges of “violent actions of a sexual nature” against the same daughter whom Dmitriev has not seen since December 2016.

Taking a 12-year-old child away from the only family she had ever known, Russia has used her age as an excuse for holding the entire “trial” behind closed doors. Details have now become clear, however, both from Dmitriev’s final address to the court on 8 July and from other information that confirm the cruel cynicism behind this case and lack of any grounds for the charges.

A father’s legitimate concerns

It is clear that there were never any “violent actions” and nothing of a sexual nature in Dmitriev’s behaviour, only a father’s legitimate concerns for his daughter’s well-being.

This was confirmed during the first trial in which the prosecution had tried to treat as “child pornography” photographs taken over a period of years, documenting the height and weight of a little girl who had been weak and underweight when taken from a children’s home.

It seems that the new charges, for which the prosecutor has demanded a 15-year prison sentence, are in connection with a period when Natasha was eight years old and began having attacks of enuresis (involuntary urinating). Like any other parent in such a situation, Dmitriev would, if he noticed the tell-tale smell, pat the little girl’s knickers around the area of the groin to see if they were wet, and if necessary get her to have a wash. There is confirmation in Natasha’s medical records that she was suffering from enuresis, yet the prosecution has claimed that these were “violent actions of a sexual nature”.

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