WHY DMITRIEV? (2)

See Why Dmitriev? (1)

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.

“Child Pornography”

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.

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“It’s effing unbelievable” (Prudovsky)

The proceedings at today’s hearing of the Supreme Court effectively placed NKVD officers who had engaged in torture during the Great Terror on the same footing as the officers of today’s FSB, entitling them to the same degree of confidentiality regarding their identity (see “Judges” and Executioners, pt 2).

That was the discouraging conclusion of the Court after hearing Prudovsky’s arguments and statements from the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Lawyer Marina Agaltsova and plaintiff Sergei Prudovsky (photo Tatyana Britskaya, NG)

Commenting on this result, Prudovsky said, “It’s not healthy to name such names in today’s Russia but I shall go on doing so …”

Prudovsky outside doors of the Supreme Court (photo Tatyana Britskaya, NG)

For a full report, see Novaya gazeta, 8 December 2021 [R]

The following day Sergei Prudovsky added the following comment on Facebook, employing a mild expletive to express his frustration and disbelief at the ruling of the highest court in the land:

“In short, the Supreme Court equated the work methods of the NKVD with those of the FSB and acknowledged NKVD operatives as FSB officers. It’s effing unbelievable.”

Prosecution demands 15 years

In its closing statement the prosecution at Yury DMITRIEV’s third trial on the same charges in the past five years has demanded that his term of imprisonment in a strict-regime penal colony be increased.

“Free Yury Dmitriev!”

This familiar poster now carries another demand: “Hands off Memorial!”

It wants him to serve a total of 15 years as opposed to the 13 years and six months imposed last September by Karelia’s High Court.

RF Supreme Court to re-examine Dmitriev case

In late June this year Yury DMITRIEV submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. On 30 June it was officially registered by the court.

Yury Dmitriev at home in 2018, after a year in Remand Centre [SIZO] No. 1 (photo, Anna Artyemeva)

On 31 August, the last day on which such a complaint may be re-examined in accordance with existing legislation (Criminal-Procedural Code, Article 401.10, pt 4), the Supreme Court announced via its website that it had requested the case materials and previous rulings in order to carry out such a re-examination.

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“Light in the Darkness” (I)

This website has already published excerpts from Irina Flige‘s 2019 book about Sandarmokh: The Search for Sandarmokh. What follows is from a review in the January 2020 issue of Novy mir, the literary magazine (Moscow).

“Two themes run through Irina Flige’s book,” writes Tatyana Bonch-Osmolovskaya. “One is the quest, pursued across many years, for the ‘lost transport’, a search to locate 1,111 inmates of the Solovki Special Prison who vanished in October 1937.” The other theme, which “embraces and deepens the first”, describes Sandarmokh today, as a place of commemoration and remembrance.

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