Two days after being sentenced to 15 years in a strict-regime penal colony, Yury DMITRIEV wrote to veteran rights activist Lena Sannikova. Recently she published an excerpt on the Facebook page of his supporters:
“In my last words to the court I said I was proud to work with Memorial.
Then I quoted what Varvara Brusilova (1899-1937) said to the Moscow tribunal after being sentenced to death [she was shot on 10 September that year at Sandarmokh, L.S.]: ‘I regard your sentence calmly: according to my religious beliefs there is no death … and I shall not beg for pardon or mercy’.”
“Don’t worry! We shall survive. All of us are Memorial. We are a nation, and no nation can exist without memory.
“We’ve seen worse times in Russia. We shall overcome!”
from Prisoner Dmitriev (Hottabych) 29 December 2021
On 26 December 2021, the day before the hearing, I wrote to Yury DMITRIEV (says Olga Nosenko on Facebook today). I had my doubts. Wasn’t this a silly thing to do? But I posted my letter with no great expectations, sending him New Year’s greetings and the tale of my forbears.
And this is what I received today after DMITRIEV had already heard the new sentence. I’ll quote two excerpts:
In a letter (received yesterday by Nataliya Dyomina) from the Petrozavodsk detention centre where he has spent most of the last five years, Yury DMITRIEV wrote in support of Memorial:
“I know the people who are presently in charge of Memorial and can confidently say that Memorial will go on working whatever the Supreme Court decides. The truth that Memorial has been unearthing, from citizens of Russia and in other countries is in great demand. People have a right to know the true history of their nation and not that which is being broadcast on Russian Television.
“Our work is needed, so we’ll go on working. The experience of working in difficult conditions has been well studied and it can also be applied today.”
Today [14 December] we received a letter from DMITRIEV (writes Natalya Dyomina). He says he’s reading the case materials. There are 20 volumes, and he gets through 1½ to 3 of them a day.
“I still have to read about a third of the case materials. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish them all next week. … The whole day is spent reading and by the evening I can’t write a sentence without using obscenities!” Things are fine with him, he says: his health is no worse than might be expected from someone his age.