Two days after being sentenced to 15 years in a strict-regime penal colony, Yury DMITRIEV wrote to veteran rights activist Lena Sannikova. Recently she published an excerpt on the Facebook page of his supporters:
“In my last words to the court I said I was proud to work with Memorial.
Then I quoted what Varvara Brusilova (1899-1937) said to the Moscow tribunal after being sentenced to death [she was shot on 10 September that year at Sandarmokh, L.S.]: ‘I regard your sentence calmly: according to my religious beliefs there is no death … and I shall not beg for pardon or mercy’.”
“Don’t worry! We shall survive. All of us are Memorial. We are a nation, and no nation can exist without memory.
“We’ve seen worse times in Russia. We shall overcome!”
from Prisoner Dmitriev (Hottabych) 29 December 2021
On 26 December 2021, the day before the hearing, I wrote to Yury DMITRIEV (says Olga Nosenko on Facebook today). I had my doubts. Wasn’t this a silly thing to do? But I posted my letter with no great expectations, sending him New Year’s greetings and the tale of my forbears.
And this is what I received today after DMITRIEV had already heard the new sentence. I’ll quote two excerpts:
Before sentence was again passed in Petrozavodsk, and demands for the closure of Memorial were heard in Moscow, Yury DMITRIEV replied to questions from Anna Yarovaya, who published some of the earliest articles about the Karelian researcher.
They communicated via the Letters service of the Federal Penal Agency; she did not receive replies to many of her questions.
HOW I JOINED MEMORIAL
In 1988, interested citizens formed an action group to set up a Popular Front of Karelia (PFK). I was invited to join the Front after it had existed for 6-7 months: Vova B. came to see me at work and asked me to attend their meeting. I went and gave them some practical advice. Without noticing I became an active PFK member.
Today [14 December] we received a letter from DMITRIEV (writes Natalya Dyomina). He says he’s reading the case materials. There are 20 volumes, and he gets through 1½ to 3 of them a day.
“I still have to read about a third of the case materials. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish them all next week. … The whole day is spent reading and by the evening I can’t write a sentence without using obscenities!” Things are fine with him, he says: his health is no worse than might be expected from someone his age.