January, February, March …

When will the verdict in the Dmitriev case come into force? (and the rulings about International Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Centre)

In posts issued, respectively, on 12 January (“What Next?” [R]) and 14 January 2022 (“What we are doing” [R]), the two Memorial organisations described what lies ahead and how they are coping at present. In the first the Memorial legal team stated that the clock starts ticking once the ruling has been received in written form. Then the accused and their attorneys have a calendar month in which to appeal.

Meanwhile, the European Court in Strasbourg issued an “interim measure” on 29 December 2021 (see text below).

Text of the 29 December 2021 ECtHR interim measure

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As concerns DMITRIEV his attorney has already submitted an appeal on 27 December 2021, the day of the verdict. This was because the proceedings at the third trial, unlike its two predecessors, were clearly biased in favour of the prosecution. For example, not one of the petitions submitted by Victor Anufriev was accepted.

Memorial has not yet been “liquidated”

Until the rulings issued on 28-29 December 2021 come into force, neither International Memorial nor the Memorial Human Rights Centre (HRC) has been dissolved. The interval between the verdict and its implementation allows, as always, an opportunity for the accused to appeal.

In Petrozavodsk, for instance, the City Court announced on 10 January that it had received Victor Anufriev’s appeal against the way in which his client Yury DMITRIEV was convicted on 27 December and sentenced to 15 years in a strict-regime penal colony.

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There have been international protests over the threatened closure of Memorial.

On 29 December, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, acting with uncharacteristic speed, applied an emergency interim measure, ordering the Russian government (since 1998 a co-signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights) to halt the abolition of the two organisations.

At 11 pm on 31 December 2021, the foreign ministry of the European Union released a statement supported by the United States, the 27-member European Union, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom calling on Russia “to uphold its international human rights obligations and commitments“.

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Now is the time to support the petition!

Sign if you have not already done so

if you have, circulate it to all your friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

As of mid-January 2022, the “Hands off Memorial!” petition had attracted 141,415 signatories worldwide. The text is presently available in 13 languages: Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Polish, Estonian, Latvian, Czech and Hebrew; English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

“The main thing is to pass on what we know”

On 26 December 2021, the day before the hearing, I wrote to Yury DMITRIEV (says Olga Nosenko on Facebook today). I had my doubts. Wasn’t this a silly thing to do? But I posted my letter with no great expectations, sending him New Year’s greetings and the tale of my forbears.

And this is what I received today after DMITRIEV had already heard the new sentence. I’ll quote two excerpts:

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Dmitriev: “It’s normal to be persecuted” (December 2021)

Before sentence was again passed in Petrozavodsk, and demands for the closure of Memorial were heard in Moscow, Yury DMITRIEV replied to questions from Anna Yarovaya, who published some of the earliest articles about the Karelian researcher.

They communicated via the Letters service of the Federal Penal Agency; she did not receive replies to many of her questions.

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HOW I JOINED MEMORIAL

In 1988, interested citizens formed an action group to set up a Popular Front of Karelia (PFK). I was invited to join the Front after it had existed for 6-7 months:[1] Vova B. came to see me at work and asked me to attend their meeting. I went and gave them some practical advice. Without noticing I became an active PFK member.

Yury A. Dmitriev, 1998

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WHY DMITRIEV? (2)

See Why Dmitriev? (1)

On 27 December 2021, the Petrozavodsk City Court in Karelia will deliver its third verdict in the case of Yury DMITRIEV. The highest court in the land remains silent; lawyers from Memorial’s Human Rights Centre have submitted an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

“Child Pornography”

The court in Karelia will be serving an “unprecedented” third judgement on issues thoroughly aired at Dmitriev’s two previous trials where he was twice acquitted of the self-same charges.

Yury Dmitriev and Victor Anufriev, March 2018

The republic’s High Court decided otherwise, quadrupling the sentence for sexual abuse of a minor, and returning the charges of child pornography and non-violent abuse to be considered a third time.

Dmitriev’s defence attorney Victor Anufriev has demonstrated, twice, that his client has no charge to answer. Meeting the accusations head on with testimony from a succession of experts, Anufriev has shown within the framework of current legislation and the procedures of the Russian judicial system that Yury DMITRIEV is innocent. If he is now convicted the decision will be based not on the rule of law or established procedure but on other extra-judicial criteria.

Much of the discussion in the first two cases, as journalist Nikita Girin showed, concerns the kind of photos and parental behaviour to be found in any family. So what has driven this relentless persecution? Earlier events and the timing of the last few days, as the Memorial Human Rights Centre and the Memorial Society themselves face liquidation by the courts, offer a further suggestion.

Pursuing a Loner

Dmitriev and the evidence against him “fit the bill” like none other.

Potential supporters in Russia, not to mention the West, would have second thoughts about anyone accused of “child pornography” or the “sexual abuse” of a minor – offences regarded in the West with a strong and barely rational horror.

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