On Wednesday, 5 August, people marked the annual Day of Remembrance in over 80 towns and cities all over the world (in Bulgaria, Latvia, Ukraine, Scotland and Brittany among others) by reading out the names of those shot at Sandarmokh in 1937 and 1938, during the Great Terror.
Due to the Corona virus epidemic no formal gathering was held this year at the memorial complex near Medvezhegorsk.
On Wednesday, 22 July at 2.30 pm (Moscow Time), Judge Merkov will announce the verdict in the Dmitriev case at the Petrozavodsk City Court. Yury DMITRIEV was arrested in December 2016 and has spent most of the time since then in prison.
As shown by The Search for Sandarmokh, a book published last year, the background to the trial reaches back more than 80 years into Soviet history to the late 1930s. Its author Irina FLIGE outlines and analyses the unfolding drama of that history.
Next week, it is expected, the present trial of Yury Dmitriev will come to an end. There are to be an exceptional four consecutive days of hearings between 4 and 7 July.
The validity of the charges will be decided in court. Beyond the courtroom many other matters are of general concern. One is the future of the Sandarmokh Memorial Complex. It is unlikely that any major physical change could be made to this unique memorial, which enjoys protected status from the Karelian government as a place of cultural and historic significance, but during the last two summers teams of diggers from the Russian Military History Society have excavated there.
Russian historian Yury DMITRIEV turned 64 on 28 January 2020. It was his third birthday detained on charges that bear no scrutiny, and, writes Halya Coynash, his arrest coincided with the beginnings of a campaign to rewrite the history of one of the darkest pages of the Soviet Terror – the mass killing by quota of Russians, Ukrainians and other prisoners of the Solovetsky Archipelago at the Sandormokh Clearing in Karelia in 1937.
Yury Dmitriev in April 2018; the entrance to the Sandormokh memorial complex
If the current regime in Russia was hoping to silence Dmitriev, it has failed. The historian and head of the Karelian branch of the Memorial Society has just published a book entitled Sandarmokh: A Place of Memory, providing information about both the victims and the perpetrators of the mass executions in the forest.
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.