A rare moment of justice from a Russian court has proved all too fleeting, writes Halya Coynash. On 14 June, Karelia’s High Court overturned the acquittal in April of world-renowned historian Yury Dmitriev and sent the ‘case’ back for retrial. Dmitriev’s imprisonment and trial had been widely viewed as politically-motivated persecution, and his acquittal – the only possible verdict after the charges were totally demolished by experts.
Three bits of advice that may be of help to those travelling to Petrozavodsk for the hearing tomorrow, writes Maria Ruzina:
- the court hearing on Thursday, 14 June, at 3 pm will take place not on Krasnaya St as we had imagined. Yury Alexeyevich DMITRIEV says it will be held at 27 Kirov Street. That’s where the Supreme Court of Karelia is actually located.
- If you arrive during the night or early mornring, it will be difficult to find a cup of coffee, a bun and wifi. Locals have even told me there are no all-night cafes in the centre of Petrozavodsk.
- In the Brusnika [blueberry] hostel at 34 Antikainen Street, 15 minutes’ walk from the courthouse, a bed in the dormitory costs 420 roubles. It’s clean, quiet and the internet works without interruption. That’s where I’m writing from, in fact.
For those who can’t travel to Petrozavodsk, let’s hold solitary pickets in our towns and cities. All you need is to post a photo showing a placard held up against the local sights. Write on it #Greetings to Dmitriev. What do you think? Are you ready? Natalia Sivohina, St Petersburg.On 14 June, writes Inga Prosvetova, the World Cup opens in Russia and solitary pickets are prohibited. But our heroes can always find a loophole: so far there’s no ban on decorating your clothes with slogans (so long as these exclude obscenities).
If you add them by hand on the morning of 14 June, toothpaste or marker pens will be enough and last the day out on your jeans.
Be careful, warns Natalya Dyomina. A court has just imposed a 10,000 rouble fine for a solitary picket in support of Oleg SENTSOV. The judge was not prepared to listen to any legal argument.
On Thursday 14 June, the Supreme Court of Karelia will hear several appeals in the Dmitriev case (his defence lawyer Victor Anufriev told the Karelian internet newspaper Stolitsa na Onego). Anufriev intends to secure the dismissal of the charge that his client unlawfully possessed parts of a weapon.
The Petrozavodsk city prosecutor’s office has also submitted an appeal against the verdict of the City Court. The conclusions drawn by the court do not reflect the factual materials of the case, says the prosecutor’s office. The Petrozavodsk city prosecutor Yelena Askerova considers that a number of rules of the Criminal Procedural Code were infringed, as well. The appeal calls for the acquittal to be quashed. In court, Askerova demanded nine years’ imprisonment in a strict-regime penal colony for YURY DMITRIEV.
A formal appeal was received today by the Petrozavodsk City Court from Yelena Askerova, the city prosecutor. She acted for the prosecution at the trial of YURY DMITRIEV, who was accused of preparing child pornography and the unlawful possession of a firearm. Our website received this information from the court.
Dmitriev, the head of Memorial in Karelia, was found not guilty of the main charges. He was sentenced to 2½ years restricted liberty after being convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm. Taking into account the months he had already spent in custody, the historian was faced with only three more months to serve. During that period, he must report to the prison every fortnight.
13 April 2018
A verdict is due on Thursday, 5 April 2018, in the trial of YURY DMITRIEV, world-renowned Russian historian and head of the Karelia branch of the Memorial Society.
The prosecution has demanded a 9-year sentence, despite even the expert assessments ordered by the court dismissing the charges. This deeply flawed case differs from many politically-motivated trials, however, in that the outcome is still not clear. A guilty verdict on Thursday afternoon will signal a new descent for Russia into its Soviet past.
The Serbsky Institute, the organisation which Prosecutor Askerova requested to assess Dmitriev’s mental state and the nine supposedly pornographic photos, effectively demolished the prosecution case, by declaring that the photos had no sexual content or purpose and that Dmitriev was himself normal mentally.
In her closing statement, however, Yelena Askerova demanded that YURY DMITRIEV be found guilty as charged and given a 9-year setence of imprisonment.
On Thursday, 22 March, the defence will make its closing statement and the judge will withdraw to consider her verdict.
“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
After her journey from Moscow to Petrozavodsk to express her support for Yury Dmitriev, the redoutable literary specialist MARIETTA CHUDAKOVA found time to give a public lecture on Memory, history textbooks and how “the present generation of idiots” in Russia was raising the next …
She also responded to questions from the media, as is now the custom, in the courthouse corridor. Karelia’s State Radio & Televion Company did not include her words, however, in that evening’s news broadcast.
in Russian (English summary
or translation available presently)
When YURY DMITRIEV was arrested, he was finishing work on a book that had taken nine years to research. It would contain thousands of names, he explained, in a January 2016 interview:
“I’m now putting together a book that will contain the names of those deported to ‘build socialism’ in Karelia from almost every other part of the USSR: Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, the Volga Region, the Urals and beyond – there was even one person from the Far East, from Kamchatka. There are more than 64,000 names in my list.
“For me it all began in the late 1980s. I’d heard that people had been ‘repressed’, but, somehow, we didn’t speak about it in our family. It turned out later that my mother’s father was dekulakised and sent to work on the White Sea Canal.
“My other grandfather was arrested in 1938 and died in the camps. He was an accountant on a collective farm and he caught it in the neck. Papa only confessed this to me in 1991 when we were coming back from the first funeral I organised for the victims of repression. Continue reading