Over the past five years Yury DMITRIEV has become known far beyond his native Karelia, throughout Russia and around the world.
He has received prizes since his first arrest in December 2016, from the Moscow Helsinki Group and most recently the Norwegian Sakharov Award. His work was recognised earlier by awards in Russia (2005), Poland (2015) and in Karelia itself (2016), where the head of the republic Hudolainen gave him its highest award.
Dmitriev with his foster daughter Natasha, b. 2005 (photo Novaya gazeta)
The exclamation quoted in the title of this post refers not to Dmitriev’s work on the Karelian Book of Remembrance, however, or to his discovery of Sandarmokh and Krasny Bor and their transformation into memorials, but to the crimes of which he has been accused.
A British acquaintance with good Russian and a direct knowledge and experience of children’s homes in Russia was indignant when she heard of his case. He had rescued and restored to health a neglected little girl, just as he himself had been rescued in childhood from a similar fate: “They should give him a medal, not put him in prison!” she exclaimed.