Natasha “held firm: she did not utter a single unnecessary word”

Irina Levontina, expert linguist at the Dmitriev trial, talks to Zoya Svetova for MBK Media about her work on the case and the pressures now faced by court experts.

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On 22 July 2020 Petrozavodsk City Court sentenced Yury DMITRIEV to three and a half years’ imprisonment in a strict-regime penal colony for “acts of a sexual nature committed against a minor”. Irina Levontina presented the findings of the linguistic specialists invited by the defence at the trial. [She is a senior research associate of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian Language.]

Their assessment played a significant role, it seems, in the award of such a mild sentence: the Criminal Code suggests a minimum of 12 years’ imprisonment for such a crime.

Irina Levontina (MBK media)

ZOYA SVETOVA (ZS) – With Academician Alexander Moldovan, Anna Dybo (Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences) and Alexei Shmelyov – all famous linguists – you prepared an expert assessment at the request of Yury Dmitriev’s defence. On which of the case materials did you base your findings?

IRINA LEVONTINA (IL) – They gave us seven texts, some with accompanying video. They were [Natasha’s] conversations with the psychologist and the cross-examination of a minor [by the investigator]. The case was held behind closed doors, so I can hardly tell you anything about the content of the texts we analysed. Before and especially after sentence was pronounced a heated discussion broke out.

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Defence experts cross-examined

On 23 July, in a closed session at the city court in Petrozavodsk, two psychologists were questioned as expert witnesses for the defence in the second Dmitriev trial. Victor Anufriev, the defence attorney, said that their responses were very important for the case.

It was the third time the experts have made the journey north from Moscow and the first time they were called to testify.

“I can tell you the following,” said Anufriev to the 7×7 correspondent. “Today at the request of the defence expert psychologists from Moscow were questioned in court. I do not wish to name them. They gave their opinion and assessment of the procedural documents with which I provided them. I asked them questions and they gave answers.

“Let me add that the trial has not ended. It will continue on 3 September this year.”

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Endocrynologist tells court about Natasha’s health

On 30 August an endocrynologist told Judge Marina Nosova that Dmitriev’s adopted daughter is in need of medical treatment and special care from her father. His photographic record of her changing condition was, therefore, justified. A petition from defence attorney Victor Anufriev for a change in the measure of restraint imposed on his client was denied because, in the opinion of the court, Yury Dmitriev posed a flight risk and might put pressure on the witnesses. The court also refused a request from Dmitriev himself to say who the author of the anonymous denunciation was. (Summary)
Full text in Russian, read on …

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Using photographs to monitor a child’s health

Paediatricians from Moscow, Grigory Shayanov and Fyodor Katasanov gave testimony in court on 1 September 2017. There was nothing unusual in what Yury Dmitriev had done, they told the court, the photographing of children to monitor their development over time was widely practised: in early 2018 a law would come into force about such long-distance// remote medical diagnosis (it was signed by President Putrin on 30 July 2017). At the hearing on 22 June 2017 Professor Lev Shcheglov said that there were no pornographic photos in the Dmitriev case. [Sumary]

Russian text in full …

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“An almost comical document” [R]

В Петрозаводском горсуде 22 июня продолжился судебный процесс над известным историком, общественником Юрием Дмитриевым, которого обвиняют в изготовлении порнографии с изображением его приемной дочери. В суде выступили свидетели со стороны защиты, а также приглашенный эксперт-сексолог Лев Щеглов.

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