On 27 December 2021, the Petrozavodsk City Court in Karelia will deliver its third verdict in the case of Yury DMITRIEV. The highest court in the land remains silent; lawyers from Memorial’s Human Rights Centre have submitted an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The court in Karelia will be serving an “unprecedented” third judgement on issues thoroughly aired at Dmitriev’s two previous trials where he was twice acquitted of the self-same charges.
Yury Dmitriev and Victor Anufriev, March 2018
The republic’s High Court decided otherwise, quadrupling the sentence for sexual abuse of a minor, and returning the charges of child pornography and non-violent abuse to be considered a third time.
Dmitriev’s defence attorney Victor Anufriev has demonstrated, twice, that his client has no charge to answer. Meeting the accusations head on with testimony from a succession of experts, Anufriev has shown within the framework of current legislation and the procedures of the Russian judicial system that Yury DMITRIEV is innocent. If he is now convicted the decision will be based not on the rule of law or established procedure but on other extra-judicial criteria.
Much of the discussion in the first two cases, as journalist Nikita Girin showed, concerns the kind of photos and parental behaviour to be found in any family. So what has driven this relentless persecution? Earlier events and the timing of the last few days, as the Memorial Human Rights Centre and the Memorial Society themselves face liquidation by the courts, offer a further suggestion.
Pursuing a Loner
Dmitriev and the evidence against him “fit the bill” like none other.
Potential supporters in Russia, not to mention the West, would have second thoughts about anyone accused of “child pornography” or the “sexual abuse” of a minor – offences regarded in the West with a strong and barely rational horror.
In his Last Words to the court in Kislovodsk (Stavropol Region), Ahmed Barakhoyev (b. 1954) said:
“You know, your honour, it’s very tough when my son brings me a parcel in prison. Why? Because it is now the 21st century but 1937 lives on. … Vyshinsky, Yagoda, Yezhov and Stalin have risen from the grave. Stalinist policies are again alive and at work.”
“But 1937 is alive today, …
Vyshinsky, Yagoda, Yezhov and Stalin are rising from the dead.”
On 15 December Barakhoyev was sentenced to nine years imprisonment in a general-regime penal colony at a trial concerning unrest in Ingushetia in 2019 over proposed changes to the border with Chechnya.
The Ingush and Chechen nations (over half a million men, women and children) were deported eastwards in February 1944 to other parts of the Soviet Union. Many of Barakhoyev’s generation were born in exile.
As if to prove Bakhroyev’s point, this January 2021 photo of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a police station shows a picture of Yagoda on the wall behind him.
The verdict and sentence in the third Dmitriev trial will not be announced until 11 am on 27 December. That’s the latest news from Petrozavodsk (thanks to Sasha Kononova).
Yury Alexeyevich DMITRIEV (b. 1956)
Earlier she reported that the defence had offered its concluding remarks today. Defence attorney Roman Masalyev was due to join Victor Anufriev. Then Yury DMITRIEV would say his FINAL WORDS to the court.
Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of Yury DMITRIEV’s first arrest
Lawyer Victor Anufriev, speaking on 13 December 2018
On this second anniversary we must remember another date, 5 April 2018. Then Yury Alexeyevich was acquitted by the Petrozavodsk City Court. That day filled many of us with the hope —
that we can and should fight for someone if we are sure he is innocent;
that a lawful and just verdict is possible today for a Russian citizen who finds himself trapped in the clutches of our judicial system.
During a break in the proceedings, 13 December 2021
Anatoly Razumov (left) and Victor Anufriev at the Petrozavodsk City courthouse
Today, of course, we must also remember with thanks those who, for a year and more, have willingly given their money, time, and energy to support our efforts as we fight the vile and unfounded charges against Yury DMITRIEV.
He has selflessly given 30 years of his life to restore the names of the victims of the Great Terror. We hope that all of us, but especially Yury Dmitriev, will see another 5 April. I feel sure it will happen.