Russia destroys child’s life and jails historians to rewrite darkest pages of Soviet history

Halya Coynash

Two hundred prominent Russians have come out in defence of Russian historian of the Soviet Terror, Yury Dmitriev, and the child whose life the FSB is destroying for the sake of a grubby and politically-motivated trial. They express distrust in the official position taken by the prosecution and the unlawful methods being used, including the pressure being exerted on Dmitriev’s adopted daughter.

Dmitriev at Krasny Bor

The authors of the appeal, posted on 28 October, point out that Dmitriev had been arrested initially on ‘child pornography’ charges pertaining to photos securely stored in his computer and detailing the young girl’s weight, height, etc. over the years that her physical development after the orphanage had aroused concern.  The defence had brought in highly qualified experts and with the publicity that the case had aroused both in Russia and abroad, he was acquitted on 5 April 2018.

Acquittals are virtually unheard of in Russia, and it was feared from the outset that the aim was merely to deflect unfavourable publicity and then overturn the acquittal. This is effectively what happened.  Dmitriev was remanded in custody again on 28 June 2018, just two weeks after a court revoked his acquittal on the first evidently flawed charges and ordered a retrial.

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Court turns down lawyer’s petition

On Thursday 31 October 2019, the Petrozavodsk City Court turned down a petition by Yury DMITRIEV’S lawyer for a specialist assessment of the case materials to be repeated. At his second trial, Dmitriev stands accused of “violent acts of a sexual nature against an under-age victim”.

His defence lawyer Victor Anufriev submitted the petition 4 ½ months ago, but Judge Alexander Merkov only examined it on 31 October. According to Anufriev, the court did not consider it necessary to request an additional assessment of the case materials.

At the same hearing, the court examined Anatoly Razumov, director of the Restored Names Centre at the National Library in St Petersburg.

Dmitriev, 31 Oct 2019 (7x7)

Yury Dmitriev being led into court, 31 Octobeer 2019

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Defence experts cross-examined

On 23 July, in a closed session at the city court in Petrozavodsk, two psychologists were questioned as expert witnesses for the defence in the second Dmitriev trial. Victor Anufriev, the defence attorney, said that their responses were very important for the case.

It was the third time the experts have made the journey north from Moscow and the first time they were called to testify.

“I can tell you the following,” said Anufriev to the 7×7 correspondent. “Today at the request of the defence expert psychologists from Moscow were questioned in court. I do not wish to name them. They gave their opinion and assessment of the procedural documents with which I provided them. I asked them questions and they gave answers.

“Let me add that the trial has not ended. It will continue on 3 September this year.”

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What is going on?

The other day the latest hearing in the new trial of Yury DMITRIEV took place. It has been six weeks since the Petrozavodsk City Court, in closed regime, heard more evidence from the prosecution.

This time round, clearly, there is no rush to convict and, it would seem, a preference for people elsewhere, e.g. supporters in Russia who travel to Karelia to wait outside the courtroom or the courthouse in a demonstration of solidarity, to be denied anything to discuss.

That includes curious foreigners.

True, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did respond to a question about the case from a Finnish journalist when he was abroad … The reply was not reassuring. More tomorrow.

JC