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.
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.
In early July 1997, DMITRIEV together with Irina Flige and the late Veniamin Joffediscovered a huge killing field of the Great Terror near Medvezhegorsk in Karelia. Subsequently it became known as Sandarmokh.
Weeks later, in early September, he and Sergei Chugunkov identify the Krasny Bor killing field and burial ground not far from Petrozavodsk, the capital of Karelia.
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.
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.