The Great Terror, 1937-1938

Over sixteen months (August 1937-November 1938), more than one and a half million people were arrested in the USSR and sentenced in their absence by regional tribunals — the extra-judicial troika (“three member commissions”), dvoika (“two member commissions”), and Special Board — or by the Military College of the Supreme Court in Moscow. No defence was offered.

Half of those arrested were sentenced to death. They were shot and buried all over the Soviet Union in killing fields like Krasny Bor and Sandarmokh in Karelia, discovered and investigated by Yury DMITRIEV. The others were sent to the Gulag for up to ten years of forced labour.

For a long while the concurrent Show Trials in Moscow of leading Old Bolsheviks (1936-1938) led many in the Soviet Union and abroad to believe that this unprecedented bloodshed was linked to a “purge” of the Communist Party. Archival research since the late 1980s has shown that the vast majority of those arrested and shot or imprisoned were picked up according to regional quotas, issued by the NKVD in Moscow.

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Reading the Names, 5 August 2020. Remembering the victims of Sandarmokh

On Wednesday, 5 August, people marked the annual Day of Remembrance in over 80 towns and cities all over the world (in Bulgaria, Latvia, Ukraine, Scotland and Brittany among others) by reading out the names of those shot at Sandarmokh in 1937 and 1938, during the Great Terror.

Due to the Corona virus epidemic no gathering was held this year at the memorial complex near Medvezhegorsk.

At present 6,241 victims have been identified. Over five thousand were inhabitants of Karelia or prisoners of the BelBaltlag (White Sea Canal) labour camp system; a further 1,111 were brought there to be shot from the Solovki Special Prison in the White Sea.

Appeals lodged by all parties

Memorial in Moscow has just confirmed that the Defence and Prosecution have both appealed against the verdict and sentence pronounced on 22 July 2020 by Judge Merkov at the end of Yury DMITRIEV’s second trial before the Petrozavodsk City Court.

On 31 July Yury Dmitriev submitted an appeal, as did the prosecution. On 3 August, an appeal was lodged on behalf of the victim, Dmitriev’s adopted daughter Natasha.

Dmitriev’s attorney Victor Anufriev confirmed that an appeal had been submitted with the intention of clearing his client of all charges. At present Dmitriev is being held, as before, in detention centre No 1 in Petrozavodsk.

What We’ve Uncovered [2]

<< THE SECOND TRIAL >>

Part One, Novaya gazeta, 13 July 2020 [E]

The child’s voice failed to be heard not just by the chairman of Petrozavodsk City Council Bondarchuk, while the court heard the girl’s statement about how much she loved her adoptive father.

As for unlawful threat to privacy, the Karelian children’s ombudsman Sarayev did not, for some reason, try to sue Rossiya TV or REN TV channels for broadcasting the photos from the “health diary” to the entire country.

In short, local officials requested the continued persecution of DMITRIEV. After that nothing stood in the way of executing the ready-made scenario.

What the victim says

The statement of the allegations was written by the grandmother. At the evidence session she said how after DMITRIEV’s acquittal in early April 2018 she read in the TVR-Panorama newspaper that the historian wants the child back in his care. There was indeed such a report in TVR-Panorama. There is no quote from Dmitriev about the girl, but there is the author’s commentary: “As Dmitriev’s family says, this case will only end when the historian gets his adopted daughter back.”

The grandmother gave the article to her granddaughter to read and claims that the girl said: “I want to write a statement about Dmitriev, if I tell them everything about him, they’ll jail him for 30 years!”

Literally one week earlier, friends from the Moscow International Film School were in touch with Dmitriev’s adopted daughter, as usual.

Students from the Film School are the historian’s old friends, they were the first to make a noise when he was arrested, they found him a lawyer and launched a campaign in his support. And it was through Dmitriev that his adopted daughter made friends with the Film School students. One of them, Sasha Kononova, said that on that occasion also the girl was warm and friendly. But in early April, straight after the acquittal, she abruptly cut off contact.

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