Week-ending 19 February 2021
On 16 February St. Petersburg’s Third Court of Cassation upheld on appeal the 13-year prison sentence handed down to Yury Dmitriev, Gulag historian and long-time head of Memorial’s branch in Karelia, on charges of child pornography that are widely considered to be fabricated. The website Human Rights in Ukraine comments: ‘The political nature of this case has been clear since Dmitriev’s arrest in December 2016, and was effectively confirmed by the presence in the court building of consuls from six EU member-states (Germany; Poland; the Czech Republic; Lithuania; Estonia and Latvia). There is one more avenue before this case ends up before the European Court of Human Rights and Dmitriev’s lawyer, Viktor Anufriev has confirmed that an appeal will be lodged with the Russian Supreme Court.’
RFE/RL, 16 February 2021: Russian news agencies said a court has rejected an appeal by gulag historian Yuri Dmitriyev, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison after being found guilty of sexually abusing his daughter. TASS and RIA Novosti reported that the St. Petersburg appeals court on February 16 dismissed the request by Dmitriyev, who has said the charges brought by prosecutors were based on fabricated evidence. Dmitriyev, 65, was arrested on child-pornography charges in 2016 based on photographs of his foster daughter that authorities found on his computer. He said the images were not pornographic and were made at the request of social workers concerned about the child’s physical development. Last July, he was found guilty, and he was scheduled to be freed in November due to time served. But a court in the northwestern Karelia region, where Dmitriyev lives, abruptly added a decade to his sentence and ordered him held in a high-security prison. Dmitriyev’s historical work has focused on exposing the victims of the 1937-38 Great Terror, in which nearly 700,000 people were executed.
Meduza, 16 February 2021: On Tuesday, February 16, St. Petersburg’s Third Court of Cassation allowed the 13-year prison sentence given to historian and activist Yuri Dmitriev to stand. Following this ruling, the investigative outlet Proekt released a report connecting Yuri Dmitriev’s persecution to presidential aide Anatoly Seryshev — the former head of the Karelian FSB.
Human Rights in Ukraine, 17 February 2021: A Russian cassation court has ignored glaring infringements of the right to a fair trial and upheld a 13-year sentence against world-renowned historian and head of the Karelia Memorial Society, Yury Dmitriev [on 16 February 2021]. This is a virtual death sentence, given the 65-year-old’s age and state of health, and may not be all since a third attempt to get a conviction on the charges first used to imprison him, following an unprecedented two acquittals, will now go ahead. The political nature of this case has been clear since Dmitriev’s arrest in December 2016, and was effectively confirmed by the presence in the court building of consuls from six EU member-states (Germany; Poland; the Czech Republic; Lithuania; Estonia and Latvia). There is one more avenue before this case ends up before the European Court of Human Rights and Dmitriev’s lawyer, Viktor Anufriev has confirmed that an appeal will be lodged with the Russian Supreme Court. “Considering both the information background after the second acquittal, when the foreign ministry gathered together representatives of the EU and ambassadors, and what was shown on federal television channels, this was basically pressure on the court.” The prosecution used such measures, Anufriev adds, and at federal level, to try to prove that the extraordinary 10-year increase in sentence, were justified, whereas the charges were totally baseless and fabricated.