“Move Trial to New Jurisdiction” (Open Letter)

On Monday, 28 September, an Open Letter signed by over two hundred Russian scientists, actors, rights activists, politicians, film-makers, historians and publishers was published in Novaya gazeta. It was addressed to the chairman of Karelia’s High Court Anatoly Nakvas.

Yury Alexeyevich DMITRIEV
(photo Anna Artyemeva, Novaya gazeta)

After outlining the progress of the two trials at which Yury DMITRIEV was charged with a variety of offences, the signatories raise doubts that the High Court of Karelia will provide a fair and just hearing of the appeals launched after the second trial ended in July 2020. Not only was the first acquittal in April 2018 overturned: this time the chances of Dmitriev receiving a fair hearing have been severely prejudiced by the behaviour of the court, as presided over by Judge Alla Rats.

One, Dmitriev’s defence attorney Victor Anufriev had to go into quarantine after contact with someone infected with Covid-19. He petitioned the High Court to postpone the hearing until he was again able to appear in public. Instead, the hearing was delayed for only one week and a local attorney was appointed to take his place.

Two, Yury DMITRIEV was not permitted to attend the hearing in person (although he has said in letters from the detention centre that via video-link he can hear no more than 40% of what is being said in the courtroom) and the new attorney did not visit him to get acquainted with the case.

Three, Judge Rats has asked for yet another expert assessment of the nine photographs from Dmitriev’s computer that formed the basis of the charge of preparing child pornography. When those photos, and Dmitriev’s own mental health and sexual inclinations, have been thoroughly analysed several times during the two previous trials this request arouses grave doubts as to the objectivity of the High Court.

The signatories of the Open Letter therefore requested Anatoly Nakvas, chairman of the High Court of Karelia, to pass the case for examination by the courts of any other region or republic within the Russian Federation.

Novaya gazeta, 28 September 2020