Memory Wars?

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”.

Bodies of 5 Soviet POWs, supposedly, at Sandarmokh (Sergei Markelov)

Five bodies are discovered, allegedly Soviet POWs shot by the Finns,
during the Continuation War, 1941-1944 (photo, Sergei Markelov)

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“They were in a great hurry”: The Russian Military-Historical Society presents its findings

On 4 September, Karelian historian Sergei Verigin and spokesmen for the Russian Military-Historical Society held a press conference about their recent excavations at Sandarmokh.

Their words were widely reported by the official RIA Novosti / Russia Today news agency — but only in Russian. The usual simultaneous publication in English and other languages was, for some reason, lacking.

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Everyone has now heard of Sandarmokh

“The events of the last few weeks have been depressing, but it’s true to say that almost everyone knows the word Sandarmokh today; before it was only known in Karelia. No excavations by the Russian Military Historical Society can change that. Only people who do not see the significance of the subject are inclined to believe that Red Army soldiers lie buried there.”

Yury Mikhailin, Moscow International Film School

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Politically-motivated excavations

Russia has turned to politically-motivated excavations to rewrite the history of the USSR in the late 1930s, writes Halya Coynash, after jailing a major historian of Stalin’s Great  Terror yet again.

(left) Sandarmokh — “People, do not kill one another”
(right) Yury DMITRIEV, acquitted in April 2018, now in custody once again

A new attempt to rewrite the history of the Great Terror in the Soviet Union appears to be under way in Russia. This renewed offensive is ominously linked with the re-arrest and imprisonment on fabricated charges of Yury Dmitriev, a world-renowned historian and the head of the Memorial Society in Karelia.

Dmitriev and colleagues from Memorial played a key role in uncovering and identifying the mass graves in eastern Karelia that have since become known as Sandarmokh. Unsubstantiated claims that Sandarmokh could hold the graves of “thousands” of Red Army soldiers taken prisoner by the Finnish Army in 1941-1943 have coincided, over the last two years, with attacks on both Dmitriev and Memorial.

Despite the lack of any hard evidence, and pleas from the children and grandchildren of those whose remains lie buried at Sandarmokh, Russia’s Military History Society has begun to carry out excavations at the site.

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Dmitriev’s mental state has been carefully assessed. Yet again …

As part of the new investigation, Yury Dmitriev was sent to Hospital No 6 in St Petersburg where psychiatrists have been determining whether he is fit to stand trial and has not taken leave of his senses …

On Wednesday, 8 August, he was released from ward No 8 and will now return to Karelia and Detention Centre No 1 in Petrozavodsk. During this period in Petersburg Dmitriev was visited by his daughter Katya, his confessor Grigory Mikhnov-Vaitenko and his lawyer Victor Anufriev, who secured his release in January this year and his acquittal after the trial in April.

Every day of the week, apart from Wednesday, Dmitriev’s supporters have been bringing brought him parcels of food, cigarettes, etc. and making donations to the hospital library: he couldn’t receive books directly, but might take them out of the library if they were there. Around forty people took part in this form of support.

On Thursday, people went to check whether he was now at the Kresty Prison in Petersburg. Dmitriev would pass through the prison before being transported back to Karelia and Detention Centre No 1.

Tatiana Kosinova
the Dmitriev Affair page on Facebook
(which presently has over 4,900 followers)

Kosinova is the founder and general director
of the Cog!ta publishing house

 

“Will we fight?” asked Yury Dmitriev. “Yes!” I answered

What evidence did the investigators present in court, for the court to adopt custody as the measure of restraint for your client?

Today the Petrozavodsk City Court granted the petition of the investigator, supported by the prosecutor’s office, and remanded Yury Dmitriev in custody until 28 August.

anufriev

If you ask what the grounds for this decision were, I believe there were no grounds because there was no evidence whatsoever in the case materials that the investigator brought to court that Yury Dmitriev had done what was said. Grounds for suspicion, in other words, were not established today. Moreover, as always, the standard phrases were pronounced: “he might hide from the investigation”, “he might influence the victim”, “he might leave the country, because he has applied for a foreign travel passport”.

Dmitriev’s lawyer, Victor Anufriev, talks to Zoya Svetova about the new criminal case.

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Dmitriev detained for two months

On 28 June the Petrozavodsk City Court decided that YURY DMITRIEV, head of the Karelian section of the Memorial Society, should be remanded in custody as part of the new criminal case against him.

“There were no surprises today,” commented Dmitriev’s lawyer Victor Anufriev. “Before the hearing the investigator said, ‘We’ll see you at the Detention Centre tomorrow.’ In other words, he already knew what the decision would be.

“During the hearing they made reference to the following: detained with his belongings; was trying to get a foreign travel passport; a grave crime; might put pressure on the victim; could commit a new crime; was attempting to hide from the courts. Those different turns of phrase have turned up in one court ruling after another.”

So far as 7×7 correspondent is aware, Dmitriev has not yet been charged. The criminal investigation was launched under an Article covering “violent actions of a sexual nature against a minor”.

7×7-Horizontal Russia, 28 June 2018

Dmitriev re-arrested

YURY DMITRIEV has been arrested less than two weeks after a court ordered his retrial on gravely flawed charges, reports Halya Coynash. He was stopped by police in Karelia after leaving Petrozavodsk to visit the grave of a friend who died just before his first arrest.

The renowned historian and head of the Karelia branch of the Memorial Society was officially detained for going outside Petrozavodsk in breach of the signed undertaking to remain in the city he gave when released from custody in January this year. In fact, the manner in which NTV, one of Russia’s worst propaganda media, appears to have had a photographer at the scene and swiftly reported that he had been stopped while trying to flee the country, arouses the suspicion that this may all have been part of an operation to get Dmitriev imprisoned again.

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“They are not used to losing” (Yury Dmitriev)

According to Dmitriev’s lawyer Victor Anufriev, a report by a psychologist pointing to “certain new circumstances” was presented to the Supreme Court of Karelia on 14 June.

“We shall know why the Supreme Court of Karelia took such a decision only in five days’ time,” Anufriev told Lyubov Chizhova of Radio Svoboda, “when the grounds for such a ruling on the appeal have been prepared. Yesterday they only announced the resolution that the sentence had been wholly revoked, as concerns both the acquittal [on two charges] and the conviction [on one charge].

Anufriev: I appealed against the conviction for possession of a firearm. The court revoked that conviction. The prosecutor appealed against the acquittal on the serious charges. The court also revoked the acquittal and sent the case back for a new examination almost from the beginning. We shall learn why it acted in this way when we can read its motivated resolution. We can say now that we were expecting the prosecutor’s office to use every means at their disposal. They used the child for their own purposes. That was predictable.

Why was it so important for the prosecutor’s office to keep Dmitriev on trial?

Anufriev: The charges were signed by Yelena Askerova, the Petrozavodsk city prosecutor. She took part in the trial and upheld the charges. She did not drop the charges and so if she has acted as prosecutor and received an acquittal, she must appeal against it. It has become a widely-reported case. I believe that she faced a choice between losing her job or securing a conviction. That’s why she was prepared to use all and any means.

We did not invite the child to appear in court. We wanted to spare her. We did not want to make her give testimony in support of Dmitriev, because she had said nothing bad about him during the preliminary investigation. They took a different approach. The Petrozavodsk ombudsman for children’s rights became involved and, on instruction from the prosecutor’s office, it seems, he brought the grandmother and child 600 kms to Petrozavodsk. Then they found a psychologist and he wrote down what the girl said.

What action will you take now?

Anufriev: We shall defend our client using legal methods and approaches. A great many expert assessments that clear Yury Dmitriev were added to the case. These, of course, destroyed many of the points made by the prosecution.

Now they want to use such underhand methods to shore up their position: supposedly, certain new circumstances have appeared. Now they will invite the children’s rights ombudsman and this psychologist to appear in court, and will request that new expert assessments be made.

Radio Svoboda, 15 June 2018
(abridged)

Political Trial reinstated

Yury Dmitriev (photo, Anna Yarovaya)

A rare moment of justice from a Russian court has proved all too fleeting, writes Halya Coynash. On 14 June, Karelia’s High Court overturned the acquittal in April of world-renowned historian Yury Dmitriev and sent the ‘case’ back for retrial.  Dmitriev’s imprisonment and trial had been widely viewed as politically-motivated persecution, and his acquittal – the only possible verdict after the charges were totally demolished by experts.

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