Next week the charges against Yury DMITRIEV will be examined, once again, in the Petrozavodsk City Court. The first hearing in the new trial is scheduled for Tuesday, 24 November (on the court’s website it was announced that the trial would begin on Wednesday, 18 November, but the later date was agreed and confirmed with Dmitriev’s defence).
This will be the third time Yury Dmitriev has been put on trial for the same crimes. Twice the Petrozavodsk City Court has found the historian not guilty of preparing child pornography or committing depraved acts against his foster daughter. On a further charge of illegal possession of a firearm he was found guilty in 2018, but acquitted in 2020.
Judge Yekaterina Khomyakova will preside over this trial. During the first and second trials a verdict was reached by Judge Marina Nosova (April 2018) and Judge Alexander Merkov (July 2020). Both times the verdict of the city court was annulled on appeal and returned for further examination.
In July 2020, Yury Dmitriev was found guilty of “violent actions of a sexual nature towards an under-age person” and sentenced to 3 ½ years imprisonment; by then he had already been held at the city detention centre for more than three years. In September 2020, the Karelian Supreme Court changed the sentence to 13 years in a strict-regime penal colony. The sentence has already come into force.
Detention Centre No 1 in Petrozavodsk (photo, Irina Galkova)
On 10 November Yury Dmitriev appealed against the sentence handed down by the Supreme Court of Karelia. This is the second submission. A first version, submitted in late October, was turned down by the court – the reason being “shortcomings” in the document presented.
At present Dmitriev remains in Detention Centre No 1 in Petrozavodsk.
Memorial International has always publicly stated that the case against Dmitriev is fabricated and politically motivated. There were gross procedural violations during the recent Supreme Court hearing that sentenced him to 13 years’ imprisonment and annulled his previous acquittal on the charges: not even an outward appearance of justice was preserved.
For more background on the forthcoming hearings, see the article by Halya Coynash, on the website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group.