Papa’s feeling better

In a post today on Facebook Katerina Klodt writes that she visited Yury DMITRIEV yesterday at Karelia’s detention centre No. 1 in Petrozavodsk and says he’s feeling better:

“As always, he isn’t used to complaining. Sends his best to everyone and says not to lose heart,” she writes, adding “we had a very good conversation.”

First Discoveries, 1988-1991

The first time Yury DMITRIEV came across the unmarked remains of those shot during the Great Terror was in 1988, as he describes in My Path to Golgotha (pt 2). The immediate reaction since the 1950s was to cover up these bones and skulls with their tell-tale bullet holes. Now activists and relatives of those arrested and shot resisted such wilful and enforced amnesia.

As the “Map of Memory” compiled by St Petersburg Memorial’s Research & Information Centre records, the remains found on the outskirts of Petrozavodsk were gathered and reburied in one of the city’s no longer used graveyards.

The Zaretskoe Graveyard, Petrozavodsk

“… human remains were discovered during excavations near the Sulazhgorsky brickworks on the outskirts of Petrozavodsk,” says the Map of Memory. “With the help of the Karelian Memorial Society, the pits were opened and the remains of between 200 and 700 people — reports vary — were uncovered. It was established that those executed by the NKVD during the Great Terror (1937-1938) were buried here. “Soon a similar burial was discovered near the Besovets settlement, not far from Petrozavodsk. The remains of more than 200 people were found there … . They were reburied in the Zaretskoe cemetery in Petrozavodsk which had been closed for further burial. The reburial took place on 30 October 1991.”

Remains of this kind lay scattered and concealed across the Soviet Union: at least 740,000 were executed between August 1937 and October 1938. It was also a subject avoided in many families. In My Path to Golgotha Dmitriev tells how and when he discovered more about the past of his own (adoptive) family. While his mother’s father was shot during the Terror, his paternal grandfather was arrested in 1938 and died in the camps. “Papa only confessed this to me in 1991 when we were coming back from the first funeral I organised for the victims of repression.” That funeral was the reburial at the Zaretskoe Graveyard late in 1991.

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Same charges, same court

For a third time Yury DMITRIEV is on trial in Petrozavodsk, before a different judge and prosecutor. There has been a second attempt to replace Yury DMITRIEV’s defence attorney Victor Anufriev.

On Friday, 2 April 2021, the third trial of Yury Dmitriev was resumed at the Petrozavodsk City Court (the proceedings were halted for several months while the Third Cassation Court in St Petersburg considered the case). Two times the Karelian High Court has rejected favourable verdicts by the court in Petrozavodsk and returned the charges for re-examination.

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A solitary protest in Petrozavodsk

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Despite a daytime temperature of minus 16 degrees Centigrade, Vladimir Malegin went and stood at the University bus stop on Student Boulevard in Petrozavodsk, a solitary picket in support of Yury DMITRIEV.

Malegin’s placard reads: “Freedom for the political prisoner Dmitriev!”

Someone sitting in a vehicle parked by the main building of Petrozavodsk University saw Malegin and started making a call, evidently, to his superiors. A few minutes later the police arrived. A policeman talked to Malegin, heard him out and left.

Posted on Facebook by Andriy Litvin

Round Three: November 2020

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.

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