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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On the Eve of a Verdict

On Friday, 10 July, Memorial hosted an online press conference about the forthcoming verdict in the DMITRIEV case. (The moderator was Oleg Orlov.)

In the absence of a transcribed and translated version of that event, here is a synchronic translation into English, with an approximate time location, of the remarks by Dmitriev’s friends, colleagues and supporters Irina FLIGE (7 mins), Anatoly RAZUMOV (13 m), Natalya SOLZHENITSYN (23 m) and Alexander SOKUROV (30 m). Sergei Davidis of Memorial (39) then discusses the plight of Russia’s many political prisoners, of whom Yury Dmitriev is one.

Their comments are followed by a Q&A in which Dmitriev’s remarkable defence attorney Victor ANUFRIEV (49 m) replies to questions from journalists, friendly and unfriendly …

The original Russian recording may be found here.