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.

Call for Submissions – The Kremlin’s Influence Quarterly vol. 3

Oct 26 2020

The Free Russia Foundation invites submissions to The Kremlins 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 Kremlins 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 Kremlins 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.

Free Russia Foundation’s Press Release on Submission of Article 15 Communication to the International Criminal Court

Oct 06 2020

On 21 September 2020, the Free Russia Foundation submitted a Communication to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Office (in The Hague, Netherlands) seeking accountability for Crimean and Russian authorities concerning international crimes perpetrated during Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea. The Communication was prepared in cooperation with Global Rights Compliance and Center for Civil Liberties and is based on a focused inquiry conducted over the past year. In our inquiry, we documented crimes as part of a systematic, planned attack by the Russian state against civilians and groups in Crimea in order to discourage them from opposing the illegal occupation of Crimea and to force their departure from the peninsula. Crimes against civilians included unlawful arrests, beatings, torture, enforced disappearances, and other inhumane acts causing severe mental and/or physical pain. In particular, the crimes targeted the Crimean Tatars, a native ethnic group who had only recently returned to their homeland, having previously been forcefully and brutally displaced by the Soviet Union in 1944.

One of the principal coercive acts was the illegal detention and concomitant violence before, during, and after the imprisonment of political prisoners. Most of those detained were arrested by Russian and Crimean authorities on terrorism charges, but it was their legal, pro-Ukrainian advocacy that led to their imprisonment. In addition, trials of those arbitrarily detained were conducted in wholesale disregard of their fair trial rights. For example, some of those illegally imprisoned were denied a speedy trial, access to independent lawyers, and the opportunity to defend themselves against their arrest in a courtroom.

In order to force those illegally detained to confess to crimes they did not commit, Russian and Crimean authorities also perpetrated acts of torture and cruel or degrading treatment, the levying of additional charges against them, even more inhumane prison conditions, denial of communications with their families and threats made against them, enforced disappearances, and even, in at least one case, a mock execution.

Other inhumane acts include “punitive psychiatry” and the denial of adequate prison conditions, including the following: (i) feeding people inedible food or, at times, no food at all; (ii) facing severe overcrowding in prisons; (iii) denial of regular water supply; (iv) threats of assault against them by prison cellmates; and (v) adding pork to food – prohibited for observant Muslims. Further, medical attention was systematically inadequate or denied for many individuals.

Concerning acts of torture, it was perpetrated by different Russian authorities, including the FSB. Allegations include the use of electric shocks in an effort to get an accused to confess. One was beaten in the head, kidneys, arms and legs with an iron pipe. With another, fingers were broken. Still another endured spinal bruises and having a plastic bag placed over his head to the point of unconsciousness. Further, threats of sexual violence against a detained man were made. Murder as well. Hands were broken, teeth were knocked out in still another.

Trials were largely held behind closed doors for illegitimate reasons, and many of the witnesses were secret not only to the public but also to the Accused. Further, credible allegations exist that, at times, there were FSB or other agents in the room, silently instructing witnesses what to say and how the judges should rule. This adds credence to words, according to the Kyiv Post, heard by Arsen Dzhepparov from a senior FSB lieutenant who stated “I will prove by all possible – and impossible – means that [an Accused is] guilty – even if he isn’t guilty”.

Concerning the crime of persecution, nearly all of these deprivations of fundamental rights were carried out with discriminatory intent. Specifically, these groups were targeted due to their political view – namely, by peacefully opposing the illegal occupation of their country. Some were targeted on ethnic grounds or religious grounds on the basis of their Crimean Tatar background.

War crimes, another group of crimes punished at the ICC, were also perpetrated in addition to or in the alternative to the crimes against humanity. This includes the crime of torture, outrages against personal dignity, unlawful confinement, wilfully depriving protected persons of the rights of a fair and regular trial, and the transfer of the occupying power of parts of its population into the territory it occupies or the deportation of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.

All these crimes had the ultimate objective of the criminal enterprise – the removal of pro-Ukrainian elements out of Crimea and the annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation without opposition, including the installation of pro-Russian elements, which include the emigration of more than 70,000 Russians, the illegal imposition of Russian law in the occupied territory, forcing Russian nationality on many Crimeans, and the appropriation of public property.

Ultimately, we hope that all the information gathered by the ICC in the context of its preliminary investigation will lead the ICC to investigate mid- to high-level Russian and Crimean officials on this basis. The international community expects responsible global leadership that follows the rule of law and expects it – no matter the situation – to be respected, especially from a state that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. When this fails to happen, the international community must demand accountability. We hope that an investigation can be opened and responsible officials of the Russian Federation will be investigated. After an investigation that conforms to international best practices, responsible persons should be charged with the systematic perpetration of international crimes.

Novichok Use Implicates Putin’s Government in Navalny’s Poisoning

Sep 02 2020

Today, the German government has announced that Russian pro-democracy leader Alexey Navalny was poisoned by Novichok. Novichok is a deadly nerve agent developed by the Soviet government chemical weapons program and used on several occasions by the Russian government to kill its critics in the recent years.

To restate the obvious, Novichok is a poison that can only be accessed with the authority of the Kremlin. Therefore, today’s announcement by German officials  directly implicates the Kremlin and Putin in the high-profile assassination attempt on Navalny.

The choice of Novichok was not just a means  to silence Mr. Navalny, but a loud, brazen and menacing message sent by Putin to the world: dare to criticize me, and you may lose your life.

The announcement by the German government of its intent to formally notify the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (‘OPCW’) of the use of Novichok against Navalny is a meek bureaucratic half-measure that fails to acknowledge the extraordinary threat to human life posed by Putin’s regime everywhere. Taken together with Angela Merkel’s promise earlier this week to help Putin finish his Nord Stream 2 pipeline despite an international outcry amounts to condoning the poisoning and normalizing it into a new modus operandi where Putin’s murders go unpunished. Free Russia Foundation urges the leaders of the EU, its Member States and the U.S. Government to take an urgent and drastic action to punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime not only to serve justice, but to establish a powerful deterrent against new attacks by Putin’s regime globally.

Free Russia Foundation Statement on Kremlin’s Interference in Elections in Georgia

Aug 26 2020

We are deeply concerned with information recently distributed by the well-respected authoritative source Center “Dossier.” According to “Dossier,” the Kremlin is using Russian political expert Sergey Mikheev and consulting company “Politsecrets” to manipulate Georgian society, distribute disinformation and anti-democratic narratives, undermine Georgia’s Western aspirations, and interfere in free and fair elections in Georgia scheduled for October 2020.

More

Free Russia Foundation Calls for Investigation into Alexey Navalny’s Poisoning

Aug 20 2020

Free Russia Foundation is gravely concerned about the life and safety of Alexey Navalny. More