Today in St Petersburg

Appeal hearing at the Third Cassation Court

The appeal against the September ruling of the Karelian High Court will be heard by the Third Cassation Court in St Petersburg today. The 45-minute hearing begins at 11.15 am and the media will be admitted.

This hearing concerns the many procedural violations committed by the High Court of Karelia during its re-consideration of the “light” (3.5 year) sentence issued by the Petrozavodsk City Court in July last year. Dmitriev’s quietly determined and highly competent defence attorney Victor Anufriev will be present, as he was not during the High Court hearings in September 2020; Yury DMITRIEV himself will not be there.

Victor Anufriev

It is hoped that a court outside Karelia will prove more able to reach decisions based on law and not be influenced by extra-judicial pressure. In confirmation of the unreliability of Karelia’s highest court [which we now refer to as the High, not the Supreme, Court of Karelia] the appeal by the legal firm whom Judge Khomyakova tried to appoint in place of Anufriev, Dmitriev’s lawyer since late 2016, was not upheld by the High Court last week.

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.

Anufriev gives detail of Cassation Appeal

At the third attempt the Cassation Court in St Petersburg has allowed the appeal submitted by Yury DMITRIEV and his lawyer Victor Anufriev to go forward for examination. A report in the Kommersant newspaper (14 December 2020) quotes Anufriev as saying that DMITRIEV “had submitted one appeal against all the previous decisions reached by the courts” in Karelia.

“In the cassation appeal we have combined our objections to the High Court of Karelia which [on 29 September 2020] sentenced Yury Dmitriev to 13 years imprisonment,” said Dmitriev’s defence attorney. “We have also sent part of the case materials for a new examination: in that case we are appealing against the previous decision to sentence my client to 3 ½ years in a penal colony.” No date has yet been scheduled for the hearing at the court in St Petersburg, commented Anufriev.

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Trial halted?

At the third attempt the appeal made by Yury DMITRIEV and his defence attorney Victor Anufriev against the September 2020 decision of Karelia’s High Court (to increase his sentence to 13 years imprisonment) has been accepted by the Third Cassation Court in St Petersburg. It will now receive the case materials and the various verdicts and decisions reached in the courts of Karelia since 2018.

Before the third trial opened in Petrozavodsk last month, Memorial lawyer Marina Agaltsova explained the potential significance of this judicial event.

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