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.”
“Sandarmokh is a unique and complete investigation. It is enormously to the credit of Yury DMITRIEV that he gathered together all the documentary information and, as a result, we today know who exactly is buried here. <…>” (Irina Flige)
Yury DMITRIEV was first arrested on 13 December 2016, a date that marks the formal beginning of The Dmitriev Affair. Its roots go deeper and further back in time, naturally.
Over two years earlier, at the annual Day of Remembrance at Sandarmokh on 5 August, Dmitriev made critical comments about the annexation of Crimea and events in eastern Ukraine. In a long interview in 2015 Dmitriev alluded to official pressure and obstruction that was making him consider leaving the country (“If I stay here [in Russia] everything will be lost.”)
A lengthy article about the POW execution theory in Russia’s Kommersant newspaper (7 September 2018) is even-handed and thorough. It needs little more than the following passage, however, to show the “new hypothesis of Karelian historians” for what it is:
“Officially, there is no data to show that the Finns carried out mass executions at Sandarmokh. Mr Verigin also confirmed for us that Finland has not transferred any information to Russia about sites where shot POWs are buried in Karelia. The historian further confirmed to Kommersant that he has not yet examined Finland’s historical archives”.
Five bodies are discovered, allegedly Soviet POWs shot by the Finns, during the Continuation War, 1941-1944 (photo, Sergei Markelov)