The Kommunarka controversy

On 29 October the annual ceremony of “Restoring the Names” took place in Moscow, despite previous uncertainties. That day and the next, similar events took place in 19 other Russian towns and cities (and in several foreign cities as well).

In many more places, including Sandarmokh and Krasny Bor in Karelia, the 30 October was marked as the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Political Repression. There was no mention of Yury DMITRIEV, his daughter complained, at the Zaretsky churchyard in Petrozavodsk or at Krasny Bor.

He was remembered, that day, when the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Moscow issued its updated List of Political Prisoners in Russia. As the compilers were careful to comment, it contained the minimum verified list of those who had been detained or prosecuted on political grounds or for reason of their religious beliefs. (Yury DMITRIEV was prominent among the political prisoners; museum director Sergei Koltyrin had not yet been added to the list.)

stena_pamiati_vlad_dokshin_novaia_gazeta

Wall of Remembrance, Kommunarka (photo, Vlad Dokshin, Novaya gazeta)

The most dramatic event proved to be the opening, a few days earlier, of the Wall of Remembrance at the Kommunarka execution site and burial ground outside Moscow. Within days other organisations (The Immortal Barrack, notably) were accusing Memorial of rehabilitating the executioners.

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Dates Official and Unofficial, 2018

The contest over the form remembrance should take, on what date and in which locations is a crucial part of the Dmitriev Affair. At its heart lies the 5 August Day of Remembrance at Sandarmokh, which is inextricably linked with Yury DMITRIEV and a memorial complex unlike any other. For the last two years Dmitriev has been prevented from attending the 5 August event.

Meanwhile, a concerted attempt was made in many parts of Russia in 2017 to wrest control from the informal groups who have presided for years over commemorative gatherings elsewhere on 30 October. This was notably the case at Krasny Bor, a major killing field not far from Petrozavodsk, where in Dmitriev’s absence his daughter Katya resisted an official takeover.

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The Ordeal resumes

On Friday, 19 October 2018, the first hearing in Yury DMITRIEV’s second trial takes place. He will be represented, once again, by Victor Anufriev. At his defence lawyer’s insistence, both the charges against Dmitriev, the old and the new, will be heard as part of the same proceedings.

Dmitriev rearrested

Yury Dmitriev is re-arrested in June 2018 (photo from Frankfurter Allgemeine)

Meanwhile, attempts to sway public opinion and prejudge the outcome of the trial are again being made by Kremlin-controlled media.

On Tuesday 16 October, Meduza [R] reported, a camera crew from REN TV came to the head office of Memorial in Moscow: “They were asking us why we were defending Yury Dmitriev and how such people as Sergei Koltyrin came to be involved with our organisation,” said Alexandra Polivanova; “they were also waving around photographs from the Dmitriev case files, which should not be in their possession.”

Memorial called the police.

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Dmitriev receives Moscow Helsinki Group award

On 12 May 2018, YURY DMITRIEV was among the recipients of the yearly awards made by the Moscow Helsinki Group. Like other laureates, he wore a black teeshirt demanding “Freedom for Oyub Titiyev!” the detained head of Memorial in Chechnya.

Dmitriev in Titiyev teeshirt after MHG award

After the award ceremony (photo, Maxim Lyalin)

(The photograph shows Dmitriev with fellow laureate Victoria Gromova
from Vladimir, Central Russia, in the courtyard behind Teatr.doc)

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Disquieting News

On 22 April, the Karelian edition of the Rossiya TV Channel’s “Events of the Week” programme included a brief item, mentioning that “this summer” there would be fresh investigations of the burials at  the Sandarmokh memorial complex near Medvezhegorsk.

(For those who know Russian,
the item begins five minutes into this half-hour broadcast)

Periodically, the suggestion that YURY DMITRIEV may have misidentified those buried at Sandarmokh or, rather, that the dead there also include Soviet prisoners of war captured and executed by the Finns in 1941-1944, has been given coverage in State-controlled Russian media and, even, in certain Finnish media outlets.  Continue reading

Dmitriev acquitted

Dmitriev faces media after acquittal (April 2018)

YURY DMITRIEV has been acquitted of charges relating to the production of child pornography but, as his attorney Victor Anufriev predicted earlier today, the verdict delivered this afternoon by Judge Marina Nosova imposes conditions, for example, that will restrict the historian’s freedom of movement for some while yet.

The exact terms of these conditions will doubtless be clearer tomorrow. They appear to relate to the classic standby charge of possessing a firearm …

John Crowfoot,
5.50 pm GMT

Serbsky verdict: Dmitriev sane, photos not pornographic

At today’s long-awaited court hearing, the first since YURY DMITRIEV returned from Moscow and was released from custody, the findings of the Serbsky Institute were made public: the court had required the institute to assess Dmitriev’s mental state and the status of the photographs he took of his foster daughter Natasha.

Dmitriev arrives for Feb 2018 hearing

Dmitriev arrives for court hearing

The specialists at the Serbsky Institute in Moscow found that Dmitriev is in his right mind and does not require in-patient treatment at any psychiatric institution. They also concurred with the experts who reported to the Petrozavodsk City Court on 27 December 2017 that there was no element of pornography in the nine photos cited by the prosecution as evidence of abuse.

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The view from above (29 October 2017)

Two last shots of Sunday’s unofficial commemoration, “Restoring the Names”. Someone took these and many other photos from the viewing platform of the toy shop Detsky Mir across Lubyanka Square (see https://www.facebook.com/Memorial.International/?hc_ref=ARRrH5pwXB-ynweSTfLoh5aK8Fk6QbY_9HGh–pFEZODZ3krh5kAP4Sstx-Ym4P7-oY)

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Behind the hoardings stands the pre-Revolutionary Polytechnical Museum, where lectures were read and poetry recitals were given — by Vladimir Mayakovsky and Osip Mandelstam among others.

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