In view of the expanding Corona virus epidemic, Russian lawyers are calling for many held by the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) to be released. One obvious candidate, almost continuously imprisoned since December 2016, is Yury DMITRIEV. At the last hearing in his slow-moving trial his detention in custody was extended until the end of June.
In an article in the widely-read Moskovsky komsomolets daily paper, lawyer Alexander Pikhovkin says that the FPS is lagging behind society as a whole and should start releasing detainees and some of its half-million prisoners.
“The Moscow section of the Federal Penitentiary Service is refusing to accept any new inmates in its detention centres,” writes Pikhovkin.
One of the last interviews Sergei KOLTYRIN, the arrested director of the Medvezhegorsk district museum, gave was to Nastoyashchee vremya, the online TV channel:
(Excerpts from a longer text on the website)
“The death of a person’s reputation is perhaps worse than being actually murdered. After such allegations, the person carries on but with great difficulty. It’s hard to live and not everyone can survive such an upheaval in their lives.
“When we speak about Sandarmokh, we must not forget the people at the time when this vile treatment began, and “undesirables” were eliminated. The free-thinkers, those who thought differently to others, who spoke in a different way and did things differently – they were awkward and undesirable [for the regime].
Yury DMITRIEV was first arrested on 13 December 2016, a date that marks the formal beginning of The Dmitriev Affair. Its roots go deeper and further back in time, naturally.
Over two years earlier, at the annual Day of Remembrance at Sandarmokh on 5 August, Dmitriev made critical comments about the annexation of Crimea and events in eastern Ukraine. In a long interview in 2015 Dmitriev alluded to official pressure and obstruction that was making him consider leaving the country (“If I stay here [in Russia] everything will be lost.”)
The “new hypothesis” that Soviet POWs were buried at Sandarmokh, so prominent today, made its first appearance in an article in Izvestiya in July 2016 [R], five months before Dmitriev was arrested.
Much that is happening now, in other words, was prefigured by earlier events and the previous trial and acquittal.
Contributors to the Dmitriev Affair Facebook page have been looking back to the first arrest and investigation of Yury Dmitriev, between December 2016 and March 2017, and re-reading the articles and reports published then.
On this website, individual reports in English (and in Russian) can be found, month by month, on the Timeline of the first trial. Four key articles summarising the main stages of the first trial and acquittal have now been gathered together. They were written by Halya Coynash to whom we are all indebted for her regular reporting and grasp of the legal and judicial nuances of the proceedings in Petrozavodsk. (A contributor to the Human Rights in Ukraine website, based in Kharkiv, she covers events in Russia, Poland and elsewhere.)
4 October 2018
On Thursday the Supreme Court of Karelia decided not to change the measure of restraint imposed on Yury DMITRIEV after he was charged with new offences, reports the Interfax news agency. His lawyers had challenged the decision of the Petrozavodsk City Court on 21 August to extend his detention in custody for a further three months.
His lawyer Victor Anufriev argued that Dmitriev presented no flight risk and, in view of his age and circumstances, could instead be kept under house arrest. The judges of the Supreme Court decided differently.
Novaya gazeta, 20 September 2018
YURY DMITRIEV was due to be released from the Petrozavodsk Detention Centre on Sunday, 28 January. Unexpectedly, he arrived home early on Saturday. Anna Yarovaya went to visit him immediately, to learn the details of his release and his plans for the future. Continue reading