Over the past five years Yury DMITRIEV has become known far beyond his native Karelia, throughout Russia and around the world.
He has received prizes since his first arrest in December 2016, from the Moscow Helsinki Group and most recently the Norwegian Sakharov Award. His work was recognised earlier by awards in Russia (2005), Poland (2015) and in Karelia itself (2016), where the head of the republic Hudolainen gave him its highest award.
Dmitriev with his foster daughter Natasha, b. 2005 (photo Novaya gazeta)
The exclamation quoted in the title of this post refers not to Dmitriev’s work on the Karelian Book of Remembrance, however, or to his discovery of Sandarmokh and Krasny Bor and their transformation into memorials, but to the crimes of which he has been accused.
A British acquaintance with good Russian and a direct knowledge and experience of children’s homes in Russia was indignant when she heard of his case. He had rescued and restored to health a neglected little girl, just as he himself had been rescued in childhood from a similar fate: “They should give him a medal, not put him in prison!” she exclaimed.
He deserves a medal for what he’s done 
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.
In early July 1997, DMITRIEV together with Irina Flige and the late Veniamin Joffe discovered 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 High Court hearing on 22 September in Petrozavodsk, Judge Alla Rats requested another expert assessment of the photographs on Yury DMITRIEV’s home computer that formed the pretext for his arrest on 13 December 2016.