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.