Attacking the Defence

There are a growing number of court hearings in Petrozavodsk associated with the Dmitriev case. On Monday, 25 January 2021, for instance, there will be a hearing at the High Court of Karelia that has no direct relation to Yury DMITRIEV or the charges brought against him. It is directly linked, however, to the methods used by the judicial system in the Karelian Republic to exact vengeance on the inconvenient historian. To be more exact, this court hearing will be an attempt to take issue with those methods.

A new defence lawyer?

On 17 November 2020, Judge Yekaterina Khomyakova tried to assign a new defence attorney to Yury Dmitriev. There was no legal logic to her action. It would have replaced Victor Anufriev who has led Dmitriev’s defence for the past four years.

The Petrozavodsk Embankment (photo, Galkova)

Judge Khomyakova sent a notice to the Fleganov & Partners law firm, requesting it to represent Dmitriev. It turned down her offer. To accept would have infringed the Statute on the Order for Participation in Cases of Defence Attorneys appointed by the Court. Alexander Fleganov refused the offer on behalf of his firm. There followed Judge Khomyakova’s individual ruling, which she sent to the Petrozavodsk bar association, about a violation supposedly committed by Fleganov & Partners. Alexander Fleganov appealed against this ruling, and it is his appeal that will be heard today by the High Court of Karelia.

We may remind readers that in September last year when an appeal against the July verdict at the Petrozavodsk City Court was being heard by the High Court the latter assigned Dmitriev defence attorney Artyom Cherkasov rather than wait for Victor Anufriev to recover (he was then self-isolating because of Covid-19). The unprecedented harsh increase in the sentence, from 3 ½ to 13 years’ imprisonment in a strict-regime penal colony, and the voiding of all acquittals on other charges, took place virtually in absence of any defence.

The third time round

Judge Khomyakova commenced her examination of the charges on which Yury Dmitriev had already been twice acquitted in full “stylistic” accord with the High Court hearing in September. In particular, she used every method available to take Dmitriev’s lawful defence lawyer off the case. The aforementioned notice to the Fleganov & Partners law firm was sent before the hearing of the case resumed, for the third time, and it had no legal foundation.

On two occasions since then Dmitriev’s lawyer Victor Anufriev, who is based in Moscow, received notification that the hearing had been moved to a different date or hour only the day before, making it impossible for him to attend. Indeed, on 24 December 2020 he received such notification when the hearing had already started. By law such an announcement should be made five days before the date of the hearing. At present, the hearings at the Petrozavodsk City Court have been halted. The Dmitriev Case has been sent to the Third Cassation Court in Saint Petersburg where the grounds for the Supreme Court’s appeal verdict in September will be considered.

Meanwhile, feelings run high in the courts of Petrozavodsk. Perhaps this time the High Court will more resemble a court of law in its deliberations. Unconfirmed rumour suggests that Alexander Fleganov could be disciplined in accordance with Judge Khomyakova’s ruling, in effect for refusing to violate his professional ethics.

Irina Galkova
Moscow Memorial, 21 January 2021