On 16 June 2020, Petrozavodsk City Court in Karelia (Northwest Russia) will announce a verdict in Yury Dmitriev’s second trial, which began two years ago. If convicted, the 64-year-old historian and researcher into Stalin-era crimes could face up to 15 years in one of Russia’s crowded and unhealthy penal colonies.
If acquitted, Dmitriev will be freed from custody in a prison system affected, like the rest of the country, by a constant spreading of Covid-19.
The latest hearing in the second trial of Yury DMITRIEV, scheduled for Wednesday 3 June, was deferred until mid-June when a verdict in the long drawn out trial is expected.
This leaves Dmitriev in the Petrozavodsk Detention Centre. At the last hearing his detention was extended, for a further three months, until 25 June despite mounting public concern that the 64-year-old researcher is being held in crowded conditions when cases of COVID-19 have been registered in Karelia’s penal system.
To the Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Karelian Republic Anatoly Vladimirovich Nakvas
On 23 March 2020, Yury DMITRIEV, who is being held in a detention facility in Petrozavodsk, was sentenced to remain under arrest for three more months. This means that the peak of the growing coronavirus epidemic will find him in a prison cell.
Yury Dmitriev is 64 years old. He has spent the last three years of his life behind bars, although no one has ever proven him guilty. Quite the opposite: in April of 2018, the court issued a non-guilty verdict on the main charges against him. But new charges, a new investigation, and a new court case have now been underway for almost two years. Yury Alekseevich’s health has already been severely impacted: he felt ill all of last fall and into the winter, and this February he had a bad cold which has left him very weak.
In view of the expanding Corona virus epidemic, Russian lawyers are calling for many held by the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) to be released. One obvious candidate, almost continuously imprisoned since December 2016, is Yury DMITRIEV. At the last hearing in his slow-moving trial his detention in custody was extended until the end of June.
In an article in the widely-read Moskovsky komsomolets daily paper, lawyer Alexander Pikhovkin says that the FPS is lagging behind society as a whole and should start releasing detainees and some of its half-million prisoners.
The hearing took place today, despite quarantine measures announced in connection with the Covid-19 outbreak.
Yury DMITRIEV in corridor of Petrozavodsk City Courthouse, 23 March 2020