More than 400 scientists, artists, and politicians from Europe and the United States have signed an appeal demanding the release from custody of local history expert and Head of the Karelian Memorial Society Yury Dmitriev who was accused of sexual abuse of his adopted daughter. International Memorial published the translation of the appeal.
The authors of the letter declared joining the hundreds of Russian intellectuals, activists and citizens who have expressed their full support for Dmitriev and people targeted with arrest and other intimidatory acts for their part in documenting the history of the USSR. They call for Dmitriev’s immediate release, allowing him to resume his research on the history of the Gulag and his work to name and commemorate the victims of Stalin’s terror, guaranteeing “academic freedom“ to all researchers and NGOs active in the field.
The letter says that the Gulag and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin are today at the center of a «Memory War» and denying the history of the past troubles the present. Even the identity of those shot and buried at Sandormokh has been disputed. The prosecution of Yury Dmitriev is a part of this war. His arrest has caused everyone’s outrage. There has been a nationwide campaign to secure his release and complete exoneration for four years already.
The appeal in support of Dmitriev was signed by, among others, Nobel laureate and professorial research fellow at the University of Adelaide (Australia) John Maxwell Coetzee, Italian MP Lia Quartapelle, former Head of BBC Russian Service and BBC World Service EurAsia Region David Morton, poet and senior teaching fellow at the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies of Boston University (USA) Alyssa Valles and others. The list of those having signed the appeal will be updated.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the European External Action Service, the European Union, and the OSCE had demanded Dmitriev's release. More than 150 Russian scientists, cultural figures, politicians, and journalists have signed an open letter for the release of a 64-year-old local history expert from jail where the coronavirus was detected.
Yury Dmitriev discovered mass graves of political repressions’ victims in Sandarmokh and Krasny Bor in the late 1990s. In April 2018, the Petrozavodsk City Court declared Dmitriev not guilty in the case on making child pornography (photos of his adopted daughter being naked). The defendant explained that those photos had been taken for the health journal. Two months later, the Supreme Court of Karelia overturned the acquittal. In addition, Dmitriev was suspected of sexual abuse. He was put in a pre-trial detention facility.