Round Three: November 2020

Next week the charges against Yury DMITRIEV will be examined, once again, in the Petrozavodsk City Court. The first hearing in the new trial is scheduled for Tuesday, 24 November (on the court’s website it was announced that the trial would begin on Wednesday, 18 November, but the later date was agreed and confirmed with Dmitriev’s defence).

This will be the third time Yury Dmitriev has been put on trial for the same crimes. Twice the Petrozavodsk City Court has found the historian not guilty of preparing child pornography or committing depraved acts against his foster daughter. On a further charge of illegal possession of a firearm he was found guilty in 2018, but acquitted in 2020.

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“An outrageous decision”

The appeal hearings at the Supreme Court of Karelia on 16, 22 and 29 September took place in the absence of Victor Anufriev who has been DMITRIEV’S defence attorney since 2016 (he is self-isolating because of Covid-19).

In a telephone interview, Anufriev told Zoya Svetova that he had been in constant touch with the attorney [Artyom Cherkasov] appointed to represent Dmitriev after the court refused his client’s lawful demand to postpone the proceedings until Anufriev was able to attend.


ZS – How do you explain the action of the Supreme Court of Karelia in overturning the sentence of the Petrozavodsk City Court? That goes against our firm belief that courts in Russia always agree their verdicts with higher courts when dealing with widely publicised cases.

VA – I’ve no idea. It just shows that the myth in this case did not work as intended. My understanding is that the court of first instance did not agree its actions with the higher court. Its decision proves that the court acted independently and reached a decision in accordance with its own understanding.

ZS – Why did the Supreme Court of Karelia take the prosecution view so firmly? Was it because of the new expert assessment of the photographs of Dmitriev’s foster daughter? The prosecutor’s office considers them pornographic, although the Petrozavodsk City Court acquitted Dmitriev of that charge.

VA — It’s hard for me to say. I haven’t seen the ruling yet. As you yourself realise it’s ridiculous to talk of a new assessment. Three years have passed, there has been an investigation and judicial hearings and a great many experts and specialists have appeared in court. Yet in a matter of three days they pretend some expert assessment has taken place. It’s a sham. I don’t even want to refer to that assessment.

It has nothing to do with the law. I petitioned for the judges to recuse themselves because it was obvious to everyone, even non-lawyers, that there could be no lawful, properly grounded decision at the Supreme Court of Karelia.

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The security services have had their way

Sergei Krivenko, Memorial board member, on the Karelian Supreme Court ruling. (He first made a statement about the case in 2017.)

Different sides were in play here, I think. In the Petrozavodsk City Court, Dmitriev’s defence attorney was able to outplay the security services by bringing forward a mass of witnesses, experts and specialists and used procedural norms to push the court at the first and second trials to take the right decision. The prosecution did not provide a single proof of Dmitriev’s guilt.

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“I’ve not given up, I’m not dispirited, we’ll keep on fighting!”

On 29 September, the day of the new sentence, DMITRIEV sent the following letter from the detention centre to photojournalist Victoria Ivleva:

Hi there, Vika!

They gave me 13 [years] for [Article] 132, just as the prosecutor wanted, and set a new trial under a new judge for the charges of which I was acquitted …

As I understand it, we’ll keep on fighting. …

The “new” pornographic assessment found that all nine photos are pornographic. By what criteria I have no idea. Neither I nor the court-appointed “defence attorney” has seen the ruling.

It’s a total travesty of justice at the Supreme Court of Karelia, in my view. …

Pass on my greetings to everyone.  I’ve not given up, I’m not dispirited, I’m ready to keep on fighting.

How is Katya taking it?

29 September 2020

Yury Dmitriev (Hottabych),
Detention Centre 1, Petrozavodsk

Novaya gazeta,
Wednesday, 2 October 2020