This week our podcast is devoted to the historian and head of the branch of Memorial in Karelia, Yury Dmitriev. Dmitriev’s name is especially closely connected to Sandarmokh. It was he who led the expedition there in 1997 that discovered the location of the mass burials of victims of Stalinist repression. Today Dmitriev remains in pre-trial detention as he awaits the outcome of his second trial on charges of child pornography. Our guests are Irina Flige, human rights defender and director of the Memorial Scientific Research Centre (St. Petersburg), Anatoly Razumov, historian and expert on the Stalin-era repressions (also from St. Petersburg), and Andrea Gullotta, a lecturer at Glasgow University and expert on the life and culture of the Gulag.
Yury Dmitriev (born in 1956 in Petrozavodsk) is a human rights activist and local historian in Karelia who has worked since the early 1990s to locate the execution sites of Stalin’s Terror and identify the victims. Dmitriev was arrested in December 2016 and charged with making pornographic images of his foster daughter. In April 2018 he was acquitted of the charges but sentenced to 30 months in prison for possession of a gun. In June 2018 a second criminal case was opened against him on the basis of ‘newly discovered circumstances.’ His second trial is ongoing and Dmitriev remains in pre-trial detention.
This podcast is in the Russian language.
The music is from Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, played here by Karolina Errera.
Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: Our conversation yesterday was extremely interesting with absolutely wonderful people: Irina Flige, director of the Memorial Scientific Research Centre (St. Petersburg); Anatoly Razumov, historian and head of the Returned Names centre (also St. Petersburg); and Andrea Gullotta, lecturer at the University of Glasgow (School of Modern Languages & Cultures) and author of Russia’s Memory War on the Gulag. We talked for more than an hour about Yury Dmitriev and his work over many years to determine the burial sites of victims of political repression in Sandarmokh, Karelia. In yesterday’s conversation we talked about how the Russian authorities are trying to interfere with the work of NGOs and independent researchers. About the fact that we see not only the process of rewriting history, but also the rewriting of victims’ personalities. About the fact that there is a war of memory, and it is a hybrid war with different elements and aspects. Historical memory in Russia – according to Irina Flige – has hybrid forms: I remember this; I do not remember that. Andrea Gullotta spoke about his resarch into ‘the war of memory.’ He also noted the importance of international support for Yury Dmitriev. Historian Anatoli Razumov talked about Dmitriev as a historian. He related how they went to Sandormokh together 20 years ago. It is very important to do our utmost so that the memory of state atrocities does not go away. So that new generations know what happened, so that the history cannot be rewritten by either the Chekists who came to power, or the “specialists” serving them.
Simon Cosgrove adds: If you want to listen to this podcast on the podcasts.com website and it doesn’t seem to play, please download by clicking on the three dots to the right. A summary of some of the week’s events in Russia relevant to human rights can be found on our website here.