A glimpse: 2 April 2021


What an awful picture,” writes Alexander Recoubratsky. “An elderly man in handcuffs, surrounded by guards. This is no villain but the historian Yury Dmitriev who found the burial places of Stalin’s victims in Karelia as he is led to yet another, dishonourable trial. He has already spent almost five years in prison.” (Photo, Natalia Dyomina.)

Same charges, same court

For a third time Yury DMITRIEV is on trial in Petrozavodsk, before a different judge and prosecutor. There has been a second attempt to replace Yury DMITRIEV’s defence attorney Victor Anufriev.

On Friday, 2 April 2021, the third trial of Yury Dmitriev was resumed at the Petrozavodsk City Court (the proceedings were halted for several months while the Third Cassation Court in St Petersburg considered the case). Two times the Karelian High Court has rejected favourable verdicts by the court in Petrozavodsk and returned the charges for re-examination.

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An appeal to the European Court of Human Rights

Lawyers from Memorial have submitted an appeal to the court in Strasbourg, asserting that the judicial proceedings in the DMITRIEV case have violated four articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The prosecution of Yury Dmitriev, head of Memorial in Karelia, is unusual in several respects.

One, the investigation and hearings have already lasted four years. The case has stirred public interest not only in Russia but also abroad, making it one of the most discussed trials of recent years.

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Terminology

This website has been in existence since September 2017. While the terminology used here is, for the most part, established and widely used two terms have now been changed.

A foster daughter

The unfortunate child at the centre of the charges brought against Yury DMITRIEV has often been described as his “adopted” daughter.

Russian procedures in this respect differ from those in the West and they have further changed since late 2016 during the course of the investigation and trials of Dmitriev. It is more accurate to characterise the precarious official and legal relationship between Yury Dmitriev and Natasha since 2008 by describing her as his foster daughter.

the High Court

Until now the highest court in the Republic of Karelia, one of the 83 subjects of the Russian Federation, has been described as that administrative region’s “Supreme” Court.

There is, however, a Supreme Court in Moscow with jurisdiction over all the 83 subjects of the federation. It will be less confusing, as the Dmitriev case and the successive verdicts passed in Karelia are examined at a higher level, to reserve the adjective Supreme for the court based in Moscow and, henceforth, refer to the court on 27 Kirov St. in Petrozavodsk as the High Court of Karelia.

Above the Supreme Court stands the Constitutional Court in St Petersburg. And since 1998 a further court of appeal has existed outside Russia, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. How far along this judicial sequence the Dmitriev case progresses before justice is done remains to be seen.