On Monday, 28 September, an Open Letter signed by over two hundred Russian scientists, actors, rights activists, politicians, film-makers, historians and publishers was published in Novaya gazeta. It was addressed to the chairman of Karelia’s Supreme Court Anatoly Nakvas.
Yury Alexeyevich DMITRIEV (photo Anna Artyemeva, Novaya gazeta)
After outlining the progress of the two trials at which Yury DMITRIEV was charged with a variety of offences, the signatories raise doubts that the Supreme Court of Karelia will provide a fair and just hearing of the appeals launched after the second trial ended in July 2020. Not only was the first acquittal in April 2018 overturned: this time the chances of Dmitriev receiving a fair hearing have been severely prejudiced by the behaviour of the court, as presided over by Judge Alla Rats.
The child’s voice failed to be heard not just by the chairman of Petrozavodsk City Council Bondarchuk, while the court heard the girl’s statement about how much she loved her adoptive father.
As for unlawful threat to privacy, the Karelian children’s ombudsman Sarayev did not, for some reason, try to sue Rossiya TV or REN TV channels for broadcasting the photos from the “health diary” to the entire country.
In short, local officials requested the continued persecution of DMITRIEV. After that nothing stood in the way of executing the ready-made scenario.
What the victim says
The statement of the allegations was written by the grandmother. At the evidence session she said how after DMITRIEV’s acquittal in early April 2018 she read in the TVR-Panorama newspaper that the historian wants the child back in his care. There was indeed such a report in TVR-Panorama. There is no quote from Dmitriev about the girl, but there is the author’s commentary: “As Dmitriev’s family says, this case will only end when the historian gets his foster daughter back.”
The grandmother gave the article to her granddaughter to read and claims that the girl said: “I want to write a statement about Dmitriev, if I tell them everything about him, they’ll jail him for 30 years!”
Literally one week earlier, friends from the Moscow International Film School were in touch with Dmitriev’s foster daughter, as usual.
Students from the Film School are the historian’s old friends, they were the first to make a noise when he was arrested, they found him a lawyer and launched a campaign in his support. And it was through Dmitriev that his foster daughter made friends with the Film School students. One of them, Sasha Kononova, said that on that occasion also the girl was warm and friendly. But in early April, straight after the acquittal, she abruptly cut off contact.
The historian Yury DMITRIEV was accused of touching his foster daughter’s genital area on several occasions;
At the age of eight the girl suffered episodes of involuntary urination (enuresis);
DMITRIEV touched the child’s genital area to check if her underwear was dry when he could smell urine, after which he took his daughter to have a wash;
The diagnosis of enuresis was supported by hospital release notes;
Three psychiatric investigations concluded that DMITRIEV displayed no sexually deviant tendencies;
Linguistic experts from the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of the Russian Language analysed the texts of the girl’s interrogation and attested to communicative pressure applied by the investigator. A Moscow University professor analysed the texts of the girl’s conversations with a psychologist and believed that the girl’s statements concerning DMITRIEV’s actions did not display the criteria typical of recollections of a traumatic experience.
The success of the prosecution in the Dmitriev case appears to correspond to the career moves of Anatoly Seryshev, former head of the FSB in Karelia.
Yury DMITRIEV (photo Tomasz Kizny)
I am finishing this text in Yury Dmitriev’s flat, in the room that used to belong to his foster daughter. The shelves still hold several of her toys, her story books, and school notebooks. From the window you can see her school, with sleepless seagulls crying above; night trains pass close by and seem to hoot in reply.
Dmitriev is confined to the old castle in the very centre of Petrozavodsk. The detention centre is surrounded by good restaurants and pleasant views, but his prison offers different kinds of entertainment. In mid-April 2019, two cellmates spent several days trying to persuade the historian to make a confession to the investigators. If he didn’t, they threatened to “degrade” (i.e. sodomise) him. Dmitriev contacted the centre’s management. If he was attacked he would defend himself, he explained, and not be responsible for the consequences. They transferred him to a different cell.
The incident says something about the quality of evidence in the case.
Second Arrest, June 2018
Dmitriev contributed, in part, to his second arrest. After his acquittal was annulled in June 2018, the Supreme Court of Karelia imposed a travel ban, forbidding Dmitriev to leave Petrozavodsk. On 27 June, however, the historian and a neighbour decided to visit their acquaintance’s grave in New Vilga, a village a few kilometres outside the city limits, and then go to pray at the Alexandro-Svirsky monastery in the Leningrad Region, 160 kms away.
Dmitriev consulted his lawyer. Victor Anufriev strictly forbade him to travel without the court’s permission. The court had already allowed Dmitriev to go to Moscow in May to collect a prize from the Moscow Helsinki Group for his historic contribution to the defence of human rights and to the human rights movement. A stubborn and self-reliant man, Dmitriev listened to his lawyer and then went anyway. A half-day trip out of Petrozavodsk was no big deal, he thought, since he had already travelled to the capital for a few days.
On Thursday the Supreme Court of Karelia decided not to change the measure of restraint imposed on Yury DMITRIEV after he was charged with new offences, reports the Interfax news agency. His lawyers had challenged the decision of the Petrozavodsk City Court on 21 August to extend his detention in custody for a further three months.
His lawyer Victor Anufriev argued that Dmitriev presented no flight risk and, in view of his age and circumstances, could instead be kept under house arrest. The judges of the Supreme Court decided differently.