On 19 August 2019, when the barbarous excavations of the Military History Society were well under way, a large group of students from the Moscow International Film School arrived at Sandormokh. They brought with them 16 unique plaques they had made themselves, listing those shot and buried there, from first Solovki transport and the prisoners of the White Sea-Baltic camp complex.
The students attached the plaques to the stakes, read aloud from the biography of these victims, and cleared up the rubbish from around the immediate area. This was part of their compulsory educational programme.
“I know it will be difficult to put together a support group three times at the Petrozavodsk courthouse, so I consulted Victor Anufriev,” wrote Daniil Saksonov on 10 March. Dmitriev’s lawyer said that the hearing on 14 March would “not be very important”, just an additional examination of one witness.
The following Tuesday, 20 March, marks the beginning of the closing statements by prosecution and defence and it would be important that people came to Petrozavodsk on that day. “Let’s try to make it!” wrote Saksonov who lectures at the Moscow Film School. “Getting away from Moscow or St Petersburg is not easy, but let’s get together. Please send us a message if you can come.
“We’re hoping that Yury Alexeyevich [Dmitriev] will lead another excursion for visitors around memorial sites near Petrozavodsk (most probably to Krasny Bor).”
Facebook, 10 March 2018
“It’s very important to gather people for the last three hearings, we hope, at the Petrozavodsk city courthouse,” wrote Daniil Saksonov on 2 March. The court would again hear the Dmitriev case on Wednesday, 14 March, and on Tuesday and Thursday, 20 and 22 March, respectively.
“It would be a pity, you must agree, if the corridors were full of sympathisers at all the court hearings hitherto and now, when we’re in the home straight, they were suddenly empty. Especially since a wonderful opportunity has appeared to spend some time with YURY ALEXEYEVICH [Dmitriev] after the hearing. On Wednesday, 14 March, for instance, he will guide people around the Krasny Bor memorial complex. Events are being arranged for the other two days, as well.
Yury Dmitriev in his own words
I first met students from the Moscow Film School, it seems, at Sandarmokh. They had come for the Day of Remembrance on 5 August. As it happened, one of the buses I’d laid on was empty and they travelled on it to the graveyard and back. They were greatly impressed and began asking me about local history.
Later they wrote me a letter: “Let us help you in some way.” I took up the offer and we went to Peter the Great’s arms factory. The next year they said: “We’d like to help again.” We worked at the Badger’s Hill graveyard. They wanted to help again, and that’s when we started going to Solovki.
Yury Dmitriev with Moscow Film School students