The current threat to Memorial’s existence, alarming as it is, might have come several years earlier had the trial of a little-known historian in provincial Petrozavodsk gone as planned. Those who have orchestrated the sustained persecution of Yury Dmitriev no doubt calculated that the simultaneous assault on his reputation and that of Memorial could not help but succeed.
Public opinion in Russia, they assumed, would be managed and manipulated as usual through tame sections of the media, especially television. Activists, politicians and academics in the West would be cautious about giving loud and public support to someone accused first of child pornography and then of sexually abusing his foster daughter. To protect her anonymity, the trial would be held behind closed doors and neither press nor public would be admitted. What could go wrong?
Support at home and abroad
Outside Russia, it’s true, there was reluctance to speak out in favour of Yury DMITRIEV. To begin with people voiced doubts: perhaps there was something behind the charges. Then the apparently fool-proof plan began to unravel.Continue reading