The appeal hearings at the Supreme Court of Karelia on 16, 22 and 29 September took place in the absence of Victor Anufriev who has been DMITRIEV’S defence attorney since 2016 (he is self-isolating because of Covid-19).
In a telephone interview, Anufriev told Zoya Svetova that he had been in constant touch with the attorney [Artyom Cherkasov] appointed to represent Dmitriev after the court refused his client’s lawful demand to postpone the proceedings until Anufriev was able to attend.
ZS – How do you explain the action of the Supreme Court of Karelia in overturning the sentence of the Petrozavodsk City Court? That goes against our firm belief that courts in Russia always agree their verdicts with higher courts when dealing with widely publicised cases.
VA – I’ve no idea. It just shows that the myth in this case did not work as intended. My understanding is that the court of first instance did not agree its actions with the higher court. Its decision proves that the court acted independently and reached a decision in accordance with its own understanding.
ZS – Why did the Supreme Court of Karelia take the prosecution view so firmly? Was it because of the new expert assessment of the photographs of Dmitriev’s foster daughter? The prosecutor’s office considers them pornographic, although the Petrozavodsk City Court acquitted Dmitriev of that charge.
VA — It’s hard for me to say. I haven’t seen the ruling yet. As you yourself realise it’s ridiculous to talk of a new assessment. Three years have passed, there has been an investigation and judicial hearings and a great many experts and specialists have appeared in court. Yet in a matter of three days they pretend some expert assessment has taken place. It’s a sham. I don’t even want to refer to that assessment.
It has nothing to do with the law. I petitioned for the judges to recuse themselves because it was obvious to everyone, even non-lawyers, that there could be no lawful, properly grounded decision at the Supreme Court of Karelia.
The Supreme Court of Karelia has annulled the verdict passed earlier on Yury DMITRIEV by the Petrozavodsk City Court and in place of three years and six months has sentenced him to 13 years imprisonment.
“This is the triumph of evil,” wrote journalist Victoria Ivleva. “13 years in a strict-regime colony is a death sentence.”
“The Supreme Court of Karelia couldn’t care less what the Petrozavodsk City Court decided, it seems to me,” commented journalist Natalya Dyomina. “That’s surprising. The city court summoned experts while the Supreme Court somehow managed in 2-3 days to examine every aspect of this case, to reach its own understanding and increase the sentence from 3 ½ to 13 years. I don’t understand what happened during those three days,” said Dyomina, who travelled to Petrozavodsk to hear the verdict. “What new facts did they uncover?”
Today the Supreme Court of Karelia began its third hearing of the appeals made by Defence and Prosecution following the 22 July verdict in the trial of Yury DMITRIEV. [Previous hearings were held on 16 and 22 September.] At this hearing experts appointed by the court will present a new analysis of the photographs in the case.
It is unusual for a court of the second instance to take so long over its deliberations. More often it reaches a decision after a single sitting.
On Monday, 28 September, an Open Letter signed by over two hundred Russian scientists, actors, rights activists, politicians, film-makers, historians and publishers was published in Novaya gazeta. It was addressed to the chairman of Karelia’s Supreme Court Anatoly Nakvas.
Yury Alexeyevich DMITRIEV (photo Anna Artyemeva, Novaya gazeta)
After outlining the progress of the two trials at which Yury DMITRIEV was charged with a variety of offences, the signatories raise doubts that the Supreme Court of Karelia will provide a fair and just hearing of the appeals launched after the second trial ended in July 2020. Not only was the first acquittal in April 2018 overturned: this time the chances of Dmitriev receiving a fair hearing have been severely prejudiced by the behaviour of the court, as presided over by Judge Alla Rats.
At the Supreme Court hearing on 22 September in Petrozavodsk, Judge Alla Rats requested another expert assessment of the photographs on Yury DMITRIEV’s home computer that formed the pretext for his arrest on 13 December 2016.
From Nikita Girin’s two detailed articles this July in Novaya gazeta we have learned which among the 140 plus photographs taken of his foster daughter between 2008 and 2015 were selected to support a charge of child pornography against the historian, and why.