On Wednesday, 16 September 2020, the Supreme Court of Karelia will hear the appeals submitted by both defence and prosecution after the 22 July verdict and sentence in the trial of Yury DMITRIEV.
The investigation and prosecution of the historian and head of the Memorial Society in Karelia began in December 2016 and has lasted almost four years, during which time Dmitriev has been detained, almost continually, at detention & investigation centre No 1 in Petrozavodsk.
The current appeals
Dmitriev’s defence has appealed against his conviction on one of the charges and called for his acquittal on all counts.
Under the Russian judicial system, the prosecution is also entitled to appeal. The prosecution has protested about the exceptionally light sentence (3 ½ years) and is calling, as it did during the closing statements, for a sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment in a strict-regime penal colony.
The charges and the verdict
The evidence and expert testimony supporting and opposing a range of charges against the historian have been heard and evaluated at two trials since June 2017.
After examining the charges, the International Memorial Society declared on 28 June 2017 that Dmitriev was a “political prisoner”. The case against him was fabricated, said Memorial, and Dmitriev was innocent of all charges.
Today 64 years old, Dmitriev has been prosecuted for a number of crimes under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. He was acquitted of all but one charge in April 2018. Tried again between October 2018 and July 2020 for two of the same offences and a further charge, he was found guilty of the new crime but given a minimal sentence.
YURY DMITRIEV’s first trial ended in April 2018 with his acquittal on the two most serious charges. The judge at the Petrozavodsk City Court concluded that the photographs Dmitriev had taken of his adopted daughter Natasha were not pornographic and that he had not committed indecent acts with her. However, the Karelian Supreme Court overruled the verdict and returned to the case for re-examination.
In summer 2018 further charges of forced sexual acts against his daughter Natasha were brought against Dmitriev. These accusations are based on new testimony by Natasha and her grandmother, neither of whom testified against Dmitriev during the first trial.
After the second trial began, Yury Dmitriev’s lawyer, Victor Anufriev, was interviewed by Alexander Valiyev of the Russian Service of Radio France Internationale.
During the first investigation and trial no evidence of the performance of indecent acts could be found. How could they suddenly bring charges of sexual violence at the second trial?
Yury Dmitriev’s acquittal was totally unexpected for the siloviki [high-ranking FSB and Ministry of Internal Affairs officers, etc]. Such a thing should not have happened, but it did. In Russia, such cases are judged in the courts and lead to a conviction without the slightest hitch. The city prosecutor supported the accusations and signed the charge sheet and that was already a signal to the judge that everything was in order and that the accused was “good to go”.
Unexpectedly, the judge ruled in accordance with the law and with justice. This was because during the course of the trial (which lasted a long while [from June 2017 to April 2018]), we, the defence, presented a great deal of evidence to wholly refute the evidence of the prosecution.
A formal appeal was received today by the Petrozavodsk City Court from Yelena Askerova, the city prosecutor. She acted for the prosecution at the trial of YURY DMITRIEV, who was accused of preparing child pornography and the unlawful possession of a firearm. Our website received this information from the court.
Dmitriev, the head of Memorial in Karelia, was found not guilty of the main charges. He was sentenced to 2½ years restricted liberty after being convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm. Taking into account the months he had already spent in custody, the historian was faced with only three more months to serve. During that period, he must report to the prison every fortnight.
“There is another important thing about the Dmitriev case: the charge his persecutors chose for him. He was not charged with ‘extremism’ or ‘separatism’, which have been commonplace in politically-motivated cases, but with child pornography and depraved actions towards a minor. Continue reading →
Between 1 June 2017 and 5 April 2018, YURY DMITRIEV was on trial in Petrozavodsk charged under Article 242.2 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code (“Use of a minor for the purposes of preparing pornography”) and Article 135 (“Perverted acts without the use of force against a minor”). For further details of these laws and the penalties they carry, see below.
The charges relate to photographs Dmitriev took of his foster daughter Natasha, in a naked state, between the ages of three and seven. He denied the charges. See Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse in Russia. (Later, Dmitriev was additionally charged, under Article 226 with “Stealing or Possession of Arms, Ammunition” etc.)
After his renewed arrest in June 2018, DMITRIEV was charged additionally under Article 135, Part 4, see below. This is also the charge recently brought against 66-year-old Sergei KOLTYRIN, director of the Medvezhyegorsk district museum.