The Kremlin’s Political Prisoners: The Case of Yuri Dmitriev

Jun 28 2019

Yuri Dmitriev was born on January 28th, 1956 and lives in the city of Petrozavodsk. He is a historian, investigator and researcher of the burial places of victims of political repression, the chairman of the Karelian branch of the Russian civil rights society “Memorial,” and a member of the Commission for Restoring the Rights of Rehabilitated Victims of Political Repressions under the Government of the Republic of Karelia.

On 13 December 2016 Dmitriev was arrested and accused under the Russian criminal code under paragraph “v,” part 2, article 242.2: of child pornography charges.” On April 5th, 2018, acquitted of the charges under the statutes regarding pornography and depraved action, he was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months of restricted freedom under the charges of keeping firearms. On June 14th, 2018, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Karelia, following the prosecution’s protests, withdrew the sentence and submitted the case for new examination. On June 27th, 2018, Yuri Dmitriev was detained again, and on June 28th, 2018, he was arrested by the court on the petition of the investigator in connection with the initiation of new criminal case under paragraph “b,” part 4, article 132 UK RF: “Forceful action of a sexual character in relation to a person under fourteen years of age,” for up to 20 years in prison.

The impetus for the new case and the arrest of Yuri Dmitriev was an anonymous statement, given to the law enforcement organ of the city of Petrozavodsk. The letter, dated December 2, 2016, stated that Dmitriev took naked photographs of his eleven-year-old adopted daughter, N. Two photographs were attached to the statement. Not naming himself, the author asked law enforcement to “take action.”

Dmitriev’s adopted daughter N, then eleven years old, had been living in Dmitriev’s family for eight years. Following Dmitriev’s arrest, on December 13th, 2016, she was taken from his family and given to the custody of the State Budgetary Institution of Social Services of the Republic of Karelia’s  “Center of assistance to children, “Hope.”

On December 28th, 2016, by decision of the Pedrozavodsk city district, Yuri Dmitriev was suspended of his parental rights and guardianship of N was given to her birth grandmother. N was then moved into the care of her grandmother in her place of residence, one of the distant regions of Karelia.

The human rights center “Memorial,” in agreement with international leaders as to the defined understanding of “political prisoner,” finds that the criminal case against Dmitriev as politically motivated and intended to terminate or change of the character of the public activity of Yuri Dmitriev and his colleagues. His imprisonment was carried out in the absence of evidence and in violation of fair trial rights and other rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Russian Constitution, international pacts on civil and political rights, and the European Convention for the Protection of human rights and individual freedoms. His sentence is disproportionate to the factual actions of which he is accused.

Yuri has heart complications. His daughter Ekaterina and granddaughter are left in difficult living circumstances. His adopted daughter N lost her family and her familiar environment of communication and socialization.

Since 1998, an International Memorial Day has been held in Sandarmokh, honoring the victims of the Great Terror. The date is the day of the order that triggered the mechanism of mass terror, August 5th, 1937. For many years, Dmitriev, one of the organizers of the August 5th Memorial Day, had accompanied many foreign delegations to Sandarmokh. Numerous delegations from Poland and Ukraine regularly visit Sandarmokh. In 1937, members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia and many Polish priests were executed there. Thanks to the work of Ivan Chukhin and Yuri Dmitriev, there is a list of exactly who was shot in Sandarmokh. It includes more than six thousand people.

Last week the judge on the Dmitriev’s case had extended Dmitriev’s detention until September 19 and set July 23 for the trial’s next session.

Activatica.org (Estonia)Activatica.org (Estonia) Article 20 (Russia)Article 20 (Russia) Euromaidan SOS (Ukraine)Euromaidan SOS (Ukraine) Free Russia Foundation (U.S., Russia, Ukraine, Georgia)Free Russia Foundation (U.S., Russia, Ukraine, Georgia) Human Rights Foundation (United States)Human Rights Foundation (United States) Action for Post-Soviet Jewry (United States)Action for Post-Soviet Jewry (United States) Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice (United States)Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice (United States) Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine) McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University (United States)McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University (United States) Solidarus (Germany)Solidarus (Germany) Union of Council for Jews in the Former Soviet Union (United States)Union of Council for Jews in the Former Soviet Union (United States) Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (Canada)Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (Canada) NEP Prague (Czech Republic)NEP Prague (Czech Republic)