Alexander Pokrovsky and his three brothers were born in a village in what today is Russia’s Oryol Region. By the early 1930s, they had moved to Moscow.
There in summer 1932 the OGPU (predecessor of the NKVD) arrested them and by October that year all four were convicted of Counter-Revolutionary Crimes under Article 58, specifically espionage and terrorism.They were, it is said, attempting to create an underground anti-Soviet organisation; they wanted to spy for France and rob the Soviet State; worst of all, they were preparing to assassinate Stalin, Voroshilov, Kaganovich and OGPU chief Yagoda.
With the exception of Ivan Pokrovsky, the eldest, they had each found work: Alexander at a factory; Sergei at a workshop; and Simeon building the new airport at Monino. This reflected the opportunities provided by the forced tempo of industrialisation during the First Five Year Plan; the city also offered them a welcome anonymity, perhaps, because their father Nikolai was an Orthodox priest.
Faced by the grim and relentless persecution of Yury DMITRIEV over the last four years, it’s easy to lose sight of the achievements of the past quarter century, those countless acts of remembrance across Russia and former Soviet states that make any simple return to the past unthinkable.
Yury Dmitriev resumes work, 2018
During the 1990s, volunteers all over the former Soviet Union gathered information from a variety of archives; they listed the names of those deported, imprisoned and shot and compiled Books of Remembrance. Today only a few of the Russian Federation’s constituent Regions and Republics lack such a record.
Daniel Kotsubinsky‘s placard reads, “Let Yury Dmitriev go, Kremlin! You’ve tormented him enough!”
He stands in St Petersburg in front of one of Mikhail Shemyakin’s two sphinxes, creatures displaying a woman’s face to the roadside, a grinning skull on the side facing the Kresty Prison across the river.
The two sculptures were erected in 1995 as a memorial to the Victims of Political Repression.
On Tuesday 16 February the Third Cassation Court in St Petersburg heard Yury DMITRIEV’s appeal against the ruling of the High Court of Karelia. The court did not uphold the appeal and left unchanged the harsh sentence of 13 years in a strict-regime penal colony. As Memorial reported, the consuls of Poland and Lithuania attended the hearing.
Victor Anufriev at the 16 February hearing (photo, Natalia Dyomina)
Afterwards Dmitriev’s lawyer Victor Anufriev told the 7×7 news website that once he had received the text of the Cassation Court’s ruling he would appeal against the decision at the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in Moscow.
“You must always look for the positive moments and this time there were two,” Anufriev told our journalist. “One, we have reached and passed this stage in the proceedings. Two, the cases have again been combined into one. This is very good. It means I can draw up one appeal to the Supreme Court. The rest remains as before.
“As I’ve said, such a decision cannot be allowed in a law-governed State. How can I regard such a ruling if I am convinced that Yury Alexeyevich did nothing of a criminal nature? Leaving aside the rifle, of which I spoke today. My client does not deny possession; put him on trial for that firearm. All the rest has been dreamed up, the entire accusation is pure invention.”
Despite a daytime temperature of minus 16 degrees Centigrade, Vladimir Malegin went and stood at the University bus stop on Student Boulevard in Petrozavodsk, a solitary picket in support of Yury DMITRIEV.
Malegin’s placard reads: “Freedom for the political prisoner Dmitriev!”
Someone sitting in a vehicle parked by the main building of Petrozavodsk University saw Malegin and started making a call, evidently, to his superiors. A few minutes later the police arrived. A policeman talked to Malegin, heard him out and left.