What We’ve Uncovered [1]

Nikita GIRIN
13 July 2020 Novaya gazeta [R]

A DISCLAIMER
with Roskomnadzor [the Communications Oversight Agency] in mind

SUMMARY

  • The historian Yury DMITRIEV was accused of touching his foster daughter’s genital area on several occasions;
  • At the age of eight the girl suffered episodes of involuntary urination (enuresis);
  • DMITRIEV touched the child’s genital area to check if her underwear was dry when he could smell urine, after which he took his daughter to have a wash;
  • The diagnosis of enuresis was supported by hospital release notes;
  • Three psychiatric investigations concluded that DMITRIEV displayed no sexually deviant tendencies;
  • Linguistic experts from the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of the Russian Language analysed the texts of the girl’s interrogation and attested to communicative pressure applied by the investigator. A Moscow University professor analysed the texts of the girl’s conversations with a psychologist and believed that the girl’s statements concerning DMITRIEV’s actions did not display the criteria typical of recollections of a traumatic experience.
  • The success of the prosecution in the Dmitriev case appears to correspond to the career moves of Anatoly Seryshev, former head of the FSB in Karelia.

Yury DMITRIEV (photo Tomasz Kizny)

I am finishing this text in Yury Dmitriev’s flat, in the room that used to belong to his foster daughter. The shelves still hold several of her toys, her story books, and school notebooks. From the window you can see her school, with sleepless seagulls crying above; night trains pass close by and seem to hoot in reply.

Dmitriev is confined to the old castle in the very centre of Petrozavodsk. The detention centre is surrounded by good restaurants and pleasant views, but his prison offers different kinds of entertainment. In mid-April 2019, two cellmates spent several days trying to persuade the historian to make a confession to the investigators. If he didn’t, they threatened to “degrade” (i.e. sodomise) him. Dmitriev contacted the centre’s management. If he was attacked he would defend himself, he explained, and not be responsible for the consequences. They transferred him to a different cell.

The incident says something about the quality of evidence in the case.

Second Arrest, June 2018

Dmitriev contributed, in part, to his second arrest. After his acquittal was annulled in June 2018, the Supreme Court of Karelia imposed a travel ban, forbidding Dmitriev to leave Petrozavodsk. On 27 June, however, the historian and a neighbour decided to visit their acquaintance’s grave in New Vilga, a village a few kilometres outside the city limits, and then go to pray at the Alexandro-Svirsky monastery in the Leningrad Region, 160 kms away.

Dmitriev consulted his lawyer. Victor Anufriev strictly forbade him to travel without the court’s permission. The court had already allowed Dmitriev to go to Moscow in May to collect a prize from the Moscow Helsinki Group for his historic contribution to the defence of human rights and to the human rights movement. A stubborn and self-reliant man, Dmitriev listened to his lawyer and then went anyway. A half-day trip out of Petrozavodsk was no big deal, he thought, since he had already travelled to the capital for a few days.

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“Light in the Darkness” (I)

This website has already published two excerpts from Irina Flige’s 2019 book about Sandarmokh: the Search for Sandarmokh, parts One and Part Two. What follows is the opening of a review in the January 2020 issue of Novy mir, the literary magazine (Moscow).

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“Two themes run through Irina Flige’s book,” writes Tatyana Bonch-Osmolovskaya. “One is the quest, pursued across many years, for the ‘lost transport’, a search to locate 1,111 inmates of the Solovki Special Prison who vanished in October 1937.”

The other theme, which “embraces and deepens the first”, describes Sandarmokh today, as a place of commemoration and remembrance.

The lost transport

For years researchers, among them Flige herself, sought documents explaining where the “lost transport” had gone and identifying the place where those victims of the Great Terror were buried. In a small clearing in the Karelian forest is a place where executions were regularly carried out. Not just the “lost transport” died there, but also prisoners of the BelBaltlag Camp complex, forced settlers and inhabitants of Karelia. Working with records in closed archives the researchers — Irina Flige, Veniamin Joffe and Yury Dmitriev, among others — restored the names of the victims.

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“Unsolved Mysteries”, A Review

The second front in the Dmitriev Affair

Even before Yury DMITRIEV was arrested in December 2016, an alternative explanation of the mass burials at Sandormokh had appeared (see below, Appendix).

Promoted by two historians at Petrozavodsk University, Sergei Verigin and Yury Kilin, it suggested that among those executed and buried in the forest near Medvezhegorsk were not only victims of Stalin’s Great Terror (1937-1938) but also Red Army soldiers shot by the Finns during the Continuation War (1941-1944).

Recent books about Sandarmokh by Yury Dmitriev and Sergei Verigin

Late last year a slender 86-page volume (with illustrations) by Professor Verigin and fellow author Armas Mashin appeared. Entitled The Mysteries of Sandarmokh: Part One, What lies Hidden in the Wooded Glade, it was published by the controversial Finnish author Johan Backman.

In a review on 27 February 2020 on the Karelia News website, Irina TAKALA of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Karelian Centre discusses this brochure as a piece of historical research, and assesses its contribution to the ongoing debate about the past reality and current meaning of the Sandarmokh killing fields.

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The Search for Sandormokh

“Twenty years ago, it seemed to us that Sandormokh as a place and these acts of remembrance divided the present from the past,” said Irina FLIGE in August 2017, at the Day of Remembrance at Sandormokh. “Today, unfortunately, we must recognise that memories of the Great Terror have not become part of our [shared] memory …”

The previous year two historians at Petrozavodsk University had put forward a ‘new hypothesis’ as to who lay buried in the woods outside Medvezhegorsk; in the Karelian capital, Yury Dmitriev was spending his eighth month in jail.

It took years to locate Karelia’s largest killing ground of the late 1930s. Irina Flige’s account of that long, painstaking quest is described in her The Search for Sandormokh, which was launched in Moscow in July 2019. At the same press conference the proposed excavations by the Russian Military History Society were exposed and condemned. Meanwhile, Dmitriev, acquitted in April 2018,  was on trial for a second time and once again incarcerated in Petrozavodsk’s Detention Centre No 1.

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Excavation in the very centre of Sandarmokh

Anna Yarovaya

Memorial observers of RMH Society excavation
Observers from Memorial monitor the behaviour of Russian Military History Society as it excavates a site at the very centre of Sandarmokh

I can’t look calmly at this photo. In the very heart of Sandarmokh, between commemorative stones and plaques on the trees, they are now digging up the graves.

I have one question.

If someone came along and started digging up a memorial to the soldiers of the Great Patriotic War [1941-1945] would everyone accept it so easily? Or would people pause for thought and decide that you cannot do such things?

The photo was taken by girls from Memorial who have been monitoring this lawless behaviour for four days now at Sandarmokh. [They can be seen to the left of the uniformed Military History excavators.]

Facebook post by the former 7×7 website correspondent who today lives in Finland.