9 July 2021
More than 200 scientists and artists, journalists, academics, human rights defenders, public figures, authors and musicians have addressed an open letter to the Chair of the Supreme Court in defence of Yury Dmitriev.
Source: Moscow Helsinki Group
More than 200 scientists and artists, journalists, academics, human rights defenders, public figures, authors and musicians have addressed an open letter to the Chair of the Supreme Court in defence of Yury Dmitriev, the Karelian historian and laureate of the Moscow Helsinki Group prize. Among those who signed the appeal are Moscow Helsinki Group members Boris Altshuler, Valery Borshchev, Sergei Lukashevsky, Svetlana Astrakhantseva and Lev Ponomarev. Novaya gazeta has published the full text of the letter.
To: Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Lebedev, Chair of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation
Respected Vyacheslav Mikhailovich!
We are deeply concerned about the fate of Yury Alekseevich Dmitriev.
The unprecedented criminal case brought against Dmitriev has been under way for a period of four and a half years and has been examined by a range of courts at various levels in the Republic of Karelia.
During this time, Dmitriev was twice acquitted by the courts of first instance, and twice the judgment was overturned on appeal.
Then, to the charge that he had taken pornographic photographs of his under-age adopted daughter, a new charge was suddenly added, accusing him of sexual assault of the same adopted daughter. The latter case was heard by the city court of Petrozavodsk over a period of almost two years. Taking account of all the circumstances, the opinions of experts and the personality of Dmitriev, the court sentenced him to a prison term considerably lower even than the minimum that the prosecutor’s office had demanded. As a result, Yury Dmitriev was due to be released three months after the sentence was delivered.
And then, when the appeal was heard, the following happened:
During two court sessions which were not attended by Dmitriev’s official lawyer — and which Yury Alekseevich himself found hard to hear over the video link — the Supreme Court of Karelia increased his sentence by ten years. This was in accordance with the prosecutor’s demand and annulled Dmitriev’s earlier acquittal on charges of pornography. And now Dmitriev, who at the age of 65 has already been sentenced to 13 years in a strict regime colony, is being put on trial for a third time under the same article on pornography.
Such zigzags of court decisions and such persistence of accusatory bias in an entirely closed trial provoke mistrust of the justice system and alarm over the fate of the individual.
We are deliberately not raising the issue of what Yury Dmitriev has achieved in the interests of Russia. We are writing in his defence not on the grounds of his merits, but simply because we are convinced that he is entirely innocent of the charges being brought against him.
We know that you, as Chair of the Supreme Court of Russia, have the right to take up any criminal case for consideration.
Please exercise this right in relation to Dmitriev’s case, bring him to the Supreme Court, and deliver your verdict. This is all we request.
For a list of signatories, see here.
Translated by Elizabeth Teague