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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What We’ve Uncovered [1]

Nikita GIRIN
13 July 2020 Novaya gazeta [R]

A DISCLAIMER
with Roskomnadzor [the Communications Oversight Agency] in mind

SUMMARY

  • The historian Yury DMITRIEV was accused of touching his adopted daughter’s genital area on several occasions;
  • At the age of eight the girl suffered episodes of involuntary urination (enuresis);
  • DMITRIEV touched the child’s genital area to check if her underwear was dry when he could smell urine, after which he took his daughter to have a wash;
  • The diagnosis of enuresis was supported by hospital release notes;
  • Three psychiatric investigations concluded that DMITRIEV displayed no sexually deviant tendencies;
  • Linguistic experts from the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of the Russian Language analysed the texts of the girl’s interrogation and attested to communicative pressure applied by the investigator. A Moscow University professor analysed the texts of the girl’s conversations with a psychologist and believed that the girl’s statements concerning DMITRIEV’s actions did not display the criteria typical of recollections of a traumatic experience.
  • The success of the prosecution in the Dmitriev case appears to correspond to the career moves of Anatoly Seryshev, former head of the FSB in Karelia.

Yury DMITRIEV (photo Tomasz Kizny)

I am finishing this text in Yury Dmitriev’s flat, in the room that used to belong to his adopted daughter. The shelves still hold several of her toys, her story books, and school notebooks. From the window you can see her school, with sleepless seagulls crying above; night trains pass close by and seem to hoot in reply.

Dmitriev is confined to the old castle in the very centre of Petrozavodsk. The detention centre is surrounded by good restaurants and pleasant views, but his prison offers different kinds of entertainment. In mid-April 2019, two cellmates spent several days trying to persuade the historian to make a confession to the investigators. If he didn’t, they threatened to “degrade” (i.e. sodomise) him. Dmitriev contacted the centre’s management. If he was attacked he would defend himself, he explained, and not be responsible for the consequences. They transferred him to a different cell.

The incident says something about the quality of evidence in the case.

Second Arrest, June 2018

Dmitriev contributed, in part, to his second arrest. After his acquittal was annulled in June 2018, the Supreme Court of Karelia imposed a travel ban, forbidding Dmitriev to leave Petrozavodsk. On 27 June, however, the historian and a neighbour decided to visit their acquaintance’s grave in New Vilga, a village a few kilometres outside the city limits, and then go to pray at the Alexandro-Svirsky monastery in the Leningrad Region, 160 kms away.

Dmitriev consulted his lawyer. Victor Anufriev strictly forbade him to travel without the court’s permission. The court had already allowed Dmitriev to go to Moscow in May to collect a prize from the Moscow Helsinki Group for his historic contribution to the defence of human rights and to the human rights movement. A stubborn and self-reliant man, Dmitriev listened to his lawyer and then went anyway. A half-day trip out of Petrozavodsk was no big deal, he thought, since he had already travelled to the capital for a few days.

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Release detainees before they become infected

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.

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“Time may pass – the memory remains”

One of the last interviews Sergei KOLTYRIN, the arrested director of the Medvezhegorsk district museum, gave was to Nastoyashchee vremya, the online TV channel:

https://www.currenttime.tv/a/29525989.html

(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].

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Second Time Round …

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.)

John Crowfoot
4 October 2018