On Wednesday, 16 September 2020, the High Court of Karelia will hear the appeals submitted by both defence and prosecution after the 22 July verdict and sentence in the trial of Yury DMITRIEV.
The investigation and prosecution of the historian and head of the Memorial Society in Karelia began in December 2016 and has lasted almost four years, during which time Dmitriev has been detained, almost continually, at detention & investigation centre No 1 in Petrozavodsk.
The current appeals
Dmitriev’s defence has appealed against his conviction on one of the charges and called for his acquittal on all counts.
Under the Russian judicial system, the prosecution is also entitled to appeal. The prosecution has protested about the exceptionally light sentence (3 ½ years) and is calling, as it did during the closing statements, for a sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment in a strict-regime penal colony.
The charges and the verdict
The evidence and expert testimony supporting and opposing a range of charges against the historian have been heard and evaluated at two trials since June 2017.
After examining the charges, the International Memorial Society declared on 28 June 2017 that Dmitriev was a “political prisoner”. The case against him was fabricated, said Memorial, and Dmitriev was innocent of all charges.
Today 64 years old, Dmitriev has been prosecuted for a number of crimes under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. He was acquitted of all but one charge in April 2018. Tried again between October 2018 and July 2020 for two of the same offences and a further charge, he was found guilty of the new crime but given a minimal sentence.
THE FIRST TRIAL
June 2017 to April 2018
Dmitriev was first brought to trial on 1 June 2017. Since the victim of two of the alleged crimes was under 14 years of age, all proceedings were held behind closed doors.
Dmitriev was charged under the following articles of the Criminal Code (the recommended term of imprisonment follows in brackets) —
Article 242.2, paragraph “C”, point 2 (8-15 years)
“Use of a Minor for the Purposes of preparing Pornography”
Article 135 (up to 3 years)
“Depraved Actions without the use of Force against a Minor”
Article 222 (up to 3 years)
“Stealing or Possession of Arms, Ammunition” etc.
On 5 April 2018, Judge NOSOVA acquitted Dmitriev of all but one charge, sentencing him to 2 ½ years’ deprivation of liberty for the crime committed under Article 222. The sentence would be completed in a matter of weeks and the measure of restraint, an agreement not to leave Petrozavodsk, remained in force. (Dmitriev was released from detention in January 2018.)
The prosecution appealed against the verdict.
Yury Dmitriev was re-arrested on 27 June 2018 for attempting to travel outside the city limits to the Svirsky Monastery (for a description of the circumstances, see the 6 April 2020 interview with Victor ANUFRIEV, Dmitriev’s defence attorney.)
THE SECOND TRIAL
October 2018 to July 2020
On 14 June 2018, the High Court of Karelia over-ruled the verdict in the first case and returned all the charges for consideration before a new judge at the City Court. A new investigation of the case began, focusing in particular on testimony obtained from Dmitriev’s adopted daughter Natasha.
When Dmitriev was again brought to court on 18 October 2018, he faced an additional charge —
Article 132, para. 4, point “b” (12-20 years)
“Actions of a Sexual Character against Someone who has not reached the Age of Fourteen”.
On 22 July 2020, Judge MERKOV of the Petrozavodsk City Court found Dmitriev guilty of the crime committed under the additional charge but sentenced him to only 3 ½ years’ imprisonment.
This is well below the minimum sentence of 12 years deprivation of liberty recommended in the Criminal Code; it is also little more than the period that Yury Dmitriev has been held in custody, under investigation or during court proceedings, and would lead to his release in mid-November this year.
HIGH COURT HEARING
16 September 2020
The hearing at the High Court of Karelia will take place at 10.00 am on Wednesday, 16 September in courtroom No 4 at the High Court building (27 Kirov Street, Petrozavodsk). As with all preceding hearings in this case, the appeals will be held behind closed doors.
Information from Memorial release (E) and other sources.