Sign a Petition to Save Yury Dmitriev

Apr 27 2020

Dear friend,

Please join us in signing this petition to help end the illegal detention of Yury Dmitriev, a 64-year old historian and a political prisoner, whose deteriorating health is now gravely endangered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dear friend,

Please join us in signing this petition to help end the illegal detention of Yury Dmitriev, a 64-year old historian and a political prisoner, whose deteriorating health is now gravely endangered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Yury Dmitriev is a renowned Russian historian who has dedicated his life to uncovering and documenting Soviet-era executions and mass graves.

The harrowing evidence scrupulously and painstakingly reconstructed by Dr. Dmitriev over the years – piece by piece, bone by bone and name by name – rendered a deadly blow to the ideology of the Russian government seeking to rewrite history and whitewash the criminal deeds of the Soviet regime.

Unable to intimidate or silence him by legal means, in 2016 Putin’s regime moved to prosecute Dr. Dmitriev on false criminal charges and has kept him in prison since. On April of 2018, the court issued a non-guilty verdict for Dr. Dmitriev. In response, the authorities quickly moved to come up with new charges, a new investigation, and a new court case, that have now been underway for almost two years.

In Fall 2019, Dr. Dmitriev’s health began seriously declining, and he has been continuously sick ever since. On March 23, 2020, Yury Dmitriev was sentenced to three additional months of detention to be served at a Petrozavodsk penitentiary where he has been held since 2018. This means that the ailing historian will face the peak of the growing coronavirus epidemic in prison in unsanitary conditions, without access to medical care of even proper nutrition.

Russian prisons are severely overcrowded and unable to facilitate observation of even minimal hygienic measures. Once an incarceration facility is penetrated by the coronavirus, it can spread like a wildfire and infect the entire prison population. Statistics show that the risk of infection for people over 60 years old is very high, and the consequences of such infection can be extreme and even deadly for this demographic.

The COVID-19 guidance issued by the World Health Organization on March 24, 2020, recommends that: “Enhanced consideration should be given to resorting to non-custodial measures at all stages of the administration of criminal justice, including at the pre-trial, trial and sentencing as well as post-sentencing stages. Priority should be given to non-custodial measures for alleged offenders and prisoners with low-risk profiles […] Older people, and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.”

Yury Dmitriev, unjustly persecuted for his principles and for his work to restore historical memory, does not present even the slightest risk to society, whereas his health and his life, are at great risk under the current circumstances.

PLEASE HELP US BY SIGNING THIS PETITION TO CALL FOR A CHANGE DR. DMITRIEV’S CUSTODY FROM PRETRIAL IMPRISONMENT TO HOUSE ARREST, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY AND REMAINING IN FORCE UNTIL HIS COURT CASE IS OVER.

Background

Dr. Yury Dmitriev is the Chairman of the Karelian Branch of the Russian Historical, Educational, and Human Rights Society “Memorial” (which is related to, but legally distinct from, the Memorial Human Rights Center).

In December 2016, Dmitriev was arrested and subsequently charged under Articles 132, 135, and 242.2 (child pornography), relating to nine photographs he took of his adopted daughter. She was malnourished when Dmitriev and his wife took her in, and the photos documented the child’s health and development to avoid any issues with social services. Moreover, each photograph had a note about the child’s height, weight, and general health.

Dmitriev was acquitted of sexual offenses in April 2018. A higher court overturned the acquittal and sent the case back for retrial. In June 2018, additional criminal charges were filed against Dmitriev, this time under Article 132(4)(b) (violent acts of a sexual nature committed against a person under fourteen). His prosecution comes amidst the government’s efforts to rehabilitate the image of Soviet-era Russia. In June 2017, Putin himself proclaimed that the “excessive demonization” of Stalin is a “means of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia.”

The Memorial Human Rights Center considers the prosecution of Yury Dmitriev politically-motivated, intended to end to his professional and scientific activities in commemorating the victims of Stalin’s political repression, as well as to attack the reputation the International Memorial Society, its member organizations, and the Society’s historical, educational and human rights work.

Dr. Dmitriev’s work has been recognized internationally:

  • In 2015, he received the Gold Cross of Merit from Poland for his work in locating mass burials at Sandarmokh and on Solovki, and identifying the victims they contained: ethnic Poles in the Soviet Union were one of the nationalities targeted during the Great Terror.
  • In 2016, Dr. Dmitriev was awarded an Honorary Diploma of the Karelian Republic by the Administration of the new head of Karelia, Alexander Hudilainen.
  • On December 31, 2017, Yury Dmitriev was one of 16 journalists, bloggers, writers and historians, imprisoned or otherwise persecuted by the authorities, who were recognized at the annual Sakharov awards for “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”.
  • In the fall of 2019, a delegation from 22 European embassies came to Sandarmokh to pay respects to his work, to honor the memory of those killed.
  • In April 2020, Dmitriev was a laureate of Dahlbäck’s Memorial Fund based in Sweden for civic courage in the fight for human rights.

Dear friend,

Please join us in signing this petition to help end the illegal detention of Yury Dmitriev, a 64-year old historian and a political prisoner, whose deteriorating health is now gravely endangered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Yury Dmitriev is a renowned Russian historian who has dedicated his life to uncovering and documenting Soviet-era executions and mass graves.

The harrowing evidence scrupulously and painstakingly reconstructed by Dr. Dmitriev over the years – piece by piece, bone by bone and name by name – rendered a deadly blow to the ideology of the Russian government seeking to rewrite history and whitewash the criminal deeds of the Soviet regime.

Unable to intimidate or silence him by legal means, in 2016 Putin’s regime moved to prosecute Dr. Dmitriev on false criminal charges and has kept him in prison since. On April of 2018, the court issued a non-guilty verdict for Dr. Dmitriev. In response, the authorities quickly moved to come up with new charges, a new investigation, and a new court case, that have now been underway for almost two years.

In Fall 2019, Dr. Dmitriev’s health began seriously declining, and he has been continuously sick ever since. On March 23, 2020, Yury Dmitriev was sentenced to three additional months of detention to be served at a Petrozavodsk penitentiary where he has been held since 2018. This means that the ailing historian will face the peak of the growing coronavirus epidemic in prison in unsanitary conditions, without access to medical care of even proper nutrition.

Russian prisons are severely overcrowded and unable to facilitate observation of even minimal hygienic measures. Once an incarceration facility is penetrated by the coronavirus, it can spread like a wildfire and infect the entire prison population. Statistics show that the risk of infection for people over 60 years old is very high, and the consequences of such infection can be extreme and even deadly for this demographic.

The COVID-19 guidance issued by the World Health Organization on March 24, 2020, recommends that: “Enhanced consideration should be given to resorting to non-custodial measures at all stages of the administration of criminal justice, including at the pre-trial, trial and sentencing as well as post-sentencing stages. Priority should be given to non-custodial measures for alleged offenders and prisoners with low-risk profiles […] Older people, and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.”

Yury Dmitriev, unjustly persecuted for his principles and for his work to restore historical memory, does not present even the slightest risk to society, whereas his health and his life, are at great risk under the current circumstances.

PLEASE HELP US BY SIGNING THIS PETITION TO CALL FOR A CHANGE DR. DMITRIEV’S CUSTODY FROM PRETRIAL IMPRISONMENT TO HOUSE ARREST, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY AND REMAINING IN FORCE UNTIL HIS COURT CASE IS OVER.

Background

Dr. Yury Dmitriev is the Chairman of the Karelian Branch of the Russian Historical, Educational, and Human Rights Society “Memorial” (which is related to, but legally distinct from, the Memorial Human Rights Center).

In December 2016, Dmitriev was arrested and subsequently charged under Articles 132, 135, and 242.2 (child pornography), relating to nine photographs he took of his adopted daughter. She was malnourished when Dmitriev and his wife took her in, and the photos documented the child’s health and development to avoid any issues with social services. Moreover, each photograph had a note about the child’s height, weight, and general health.

Dmitriev was acquitted of sexual offenses in April 2018. A higher court overturned the acquittal and sent the case back for retrial. In June 2018, additional criminal charges were filed against Dmitriev, this time under Article 132(4)(b) (violent acts of a sexual nature committed against a person under fourteen). His prosecution comes amidst the government’s efforts to rehabilitate the image of Soviet-era Russia. In June 2017, Putin himself proclaimed that the “excessive demonization” of Stalin is a “means of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia.”

The Memorial Human Rights Center considers the prosecution of Yury Dmitriev politically-motivated, intended to end to his professional and scientific activities in commemorating the victims of Stalin’s political repression, as well as to attack the reputation the International Memorial Society, its member organizations, and the Society’s historical, educational and human rights work.

Dr. Dmitriev’s work has been recognized internationally:

  • In 2015, he received the Gold Cross of Merit from Poland for his work in locating mass burials at Sandarmokh and on Solovki, and identifying the victims they contained: ethnic Poles in the Soviet Union were one of the nationalities targeted during the Great Terror.
  • In 2016, Dr. Dmitriev was awarded an Honorary Diploma of the Karelian Republic by the Administration of the new head of Karelia, Alexander Hudilainen.
  • On December 31, 2017, Yury Dmitriev was one of 16 journalists, bloggers, writers and historians, imprisoned or otherwise persecuted by the authorities, who were recognized at the annual Sakharov awards for “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”.
  • In the fall of 2019, a delegation from 22 European embassies came to Sandarmokh to pay respects to his work, to honor the memory of those killed.
  • In April 2020, Dmitriev was a laureate of Dahlbäck’s Memorial Fund based in Sweden for civic courage in the fight for human rights.

Lukashenka’s Ryanair Hijacking Proves Human Rights is a Global Security Issue

May 24 2021

The forced diversion and landing in Minsk of a May 23, 2021 Ryanair flight en route from Greece to Lithuania, and the subsequent arrest of dissident Roman Protasevich who was aboard the flight, by the illegitimate Lukashenka regime pose an overt political and military challenge to Europe, NATO and the broad global community.  NATO members must respond forcefully by demanding (1) the immediate release of Protasevich and other political prisoners in Belarus, and (2) a prompt transition to a government that represents the will of the people of Belarus. 

The West’s passivity in the face of massive, continuous and growing oppression of the Belarusian people since summer 2020 has emboldened Lukashenka to commit what some European leaders have appropriately termed an act of “state terrorism.”

The West has shown a manifest disposition to appease Putin’s regime —Lukashenka’s sole security guarantor. It has made inappropriate overtures for a Putin-Biden summit and waived  Nord Stream 2 sanctions mandated by Congress. These actions and signals have come against the backdrop of the 2020 Russian constitutional coup, the assassination attempt against Navalny and his subsequent imprisonment on patently bogus charges, the arrests of close to 13,000 Russian activists, and the outlawing of all opposition movements and activities. All this has led Putin and Lukashenka to conclude that they eliminate their political opponents with impunity.  

Today’s state-ordered hijacking of an international passenger airplane—employing intelligence agents aboard the flight,  and accomplished via an advanced fighter-interceptor—to apprehend an exiled activist, underscores that violation of human rights is not only a domestic issue, but a matter of international safety and security.  Western governments unwilling to stand up for the victims of Putin’s and Lukashenka’s regimes are inviting future crimes against their own citizens. 

Absent a meaningful and swift response, the escalation of violence and intensity of international crimes committed  by Lukashenka’s and Putin’s regime will continue, destabilizing the world and discrediting the Western democratic institutions. 

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – THE KREMLIN’S INFLUENCE QUARTERLY

May 20 2021

The Free Russia Foundation invites submissions to The Kremlin’s Influence Quarterly, a journal that explores and analyzes manifestations of the malign influence of Putin’s Russia in Europe.

We understand malign influence in the European context as a specific type of influence that directly or indirectly subverts and undermines European values and democratic institutions. We follow the Treaty on European Union in understanding European values that are the following: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. Democratic institutions are guardians of European values, and among them, we highlight representative political parties; free and fair elections; an impartial justice system; free, independent and pluralistic media; and civil society.

Your contribution to The Kremlin’s Influence Quarterly would focus on one European country from the EU, Eastern Partnership or Western Balkans, and on one particular area where you want to explore Russian malign influence: politics, diplomacy, military domain, business, media, civil society, academia, religion, crime, or law.

Each chapter in The Kremlin’s Influence Quarterly should be around 5 thousand words including footnotes. The Free Russia Foundation offers an honorarium for contributions accepted for publication in the journal.

If you are interested in submitting a chapter, please send us a brief description of your chapter and its title (250 words) to the following e-mail address: info@4freerussia.org. Please put The Kremlin’s Influence Quarterly as a subject line of your message.

Criminal operations by Russia’s GRU worldwide: expert discussion

May 06 2021

Please join Free Russia Foundation for an expert brief and discussion on latest criminal operations conducted by Russia’s GRU worldwide with:

  • Christo Grozev, Bellingcat— the legendary investigator who uncovered the Kremlin’s involvement, perpetrators and timeline of Navalny’s assassination attempt. 
  • Jakub Janda, Director of the European Values Think Tank (the Czech Republic) where he researches Russia’s hostile influence operations in the West
  • Michael Weiss, Director of Special Investigations at Free Russia Foundation where he leads the Lubyanka Files project, which consists of translating and curating KGB training manuals still used in modern Russia for the purposes of educating Vladimir Putin’s spies.

The event will take place on Tuesday, May 11 from 11 am to 12:30pm New York Time (17:00 in Brussels) and include an extensive Q&A with the audience moderated by Ilya Zaslavskiy, Senior Fellow at Free Russia Foundation and head of Underminers.info, a research project on post-Soviet kleptocracy

The event will be broadcast live at: https://www.facebook.com/events/223365735790798/

  • The discussion will cover Russia’s most recent and ongoing covert violent operations, direct political interference, oligarchic penetration with money and influence; 
  • GRU’s structure and approach to conducting operations in Europe
  • Trends and forecasts on how data availability will impact both, the Kremlin’s operations and their investigation by governments and activists; 
  • EU and national European government response and facilitation of operations on their soil; 
  • Recommendations for effective counter to the security and political threats posed by Russian security services. 

YouTube Against Navalny’s Smart Voting

May 06 2021

On May 6, 2020, at least five YouTube channels belonging to key Russian opposition leaders and platforms received notifications from YouTube that some of their content had been removed due to its being qualified as “spam, deceptive practices and scams”. 

They included: 

Ilya Yashin (343k YouTube subscribers)

Vladimir Milov (218k YouTube subscribers) 

Leonid Volkov (117k YouTube subscribers)

Novaya Gazeta (277k YouTube Subscribers) 

Sota Vision (248k YouTube Subscribers)

Most likely, there are other Russian pro-democracy channels that have received similar notifications at the same time, and we are putting together the list of all affected by this censorship campaign. 

The identical letters received from YouTube by the five account holders stated:

“Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our spam, deceptive practices and scams policy. We’ve removed the following content from YouTube:

URL: https://votesmart.appspot.com/

YouTube has removed urls from descriptions of videos posted on these accounts that linked to Alexey Navalny’s Smart Voting website (votesmart.appspot.com).

By doing this, and to our great shock and disbelief, YouTube has acted to enforce the Kremlin’s policies by qualifying Alexey Navalny’s Smart Voting system and its website as “spam, deceptive practices and scams”. 

This action has not only technically disrupted communication for the Russian civil society which is now under a deadly siege by Putin’s regime, but it has rendered a serious and lasting damage to its reputation and legitimacy of Smart Voting approach. 

In reality, Smart Voting system is not a spam, scam or a “deceptive practice”, but instead it’s a fully legitimate system of choosing and supporting candidates in Russian elections who have a chance of winning against the ruling “United Russia” party candidates. There’s absolutely nothing illegal, deceptive or fraudulent about the Smart Voting or any materials on its website.

We don’t know the reasons behind such YouTube actions, but they are an unacceptable suppression of a constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the Russian people and help the Kremlin’s suppression of civil rights and freedoms by banning the Smart Voting system and not allowing free political competition with the ruling “United Russia” party. 

This is an extremely dangerous precedent in an environment where opposition activities in Russia are being literally outlawed;  key opposition figures are jailed, exiled, arrested and attacked with criminal investigations; independent election campaigning is prohibited; and social media networks remain among the very few channels still available to the Russian opposition to communicate with the ordinary Russians.

We demand a  swift and decisive action on this matter from the international community, to make sure that YouTube corrects its stance toward Russian opposition channels, and ensures that such suppression of peaceful, legal  pro-democracy voices does not happen again. 

FRF Lauds New US Sanctions Targeting the Kremlin’s Perpetrators in Crimea, Calls for Their Expansion

Apr 15 2021

On April 15, 2021,  President Biden signed new sanctions against a number of officials and agents of the Russian Federation in connection with malign international activities conducted by the Russian government.

The list of individuals sanctioned by the new law includes Leonid Mikhalyuk, director of the Federal Security Service in the Russian-occupied Crimea.

A report issued by Free Russia Foundation, Media Initiative for Human Rights and Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union in December 202, identified 16 officials from Russian law enforcement and security agencies as well as the judiciary operating on the territory of the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula currently occupied by the Russian Federation. These individuals have been either directly involved or have overseen political persecution of three prominent Crimean human rights defenders – Emir-Usein Kuku, Sever Mustafayev and Emil Kurbedinov.

Leonid Mikhailiuk is one of these officials. He has been directly involved and directed the repressive campaign in the occupied Crimea, including persecution of innocent people on terrorism charges and massive illegal searches. The persecution of Server Mustafayev was conducted under his supervision. As the head of the FSB branch in Crimea, he is in charge of its operation and all operatives working on politically motivated cases are his subordinates. 

Within the extremely centralized system of the Russian security services, Mikhailiuk is clearly at the top rank of organized political persecution and human rights violations.

Free Russia Foundation welcomes the new sanctions and hopes that all other individuals identified in the report will also be held accountable.