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Karelian court sentences historian Dmitriev to 15 years in a penal colony

Sofia Bogatkina
Photo by Igor Podgorny

The Petrozavodsk City Court has sentenced Yury Dmitriev, the head of the Karelian Memorial*, to 15 years in a high-security prison. He was accused of production of child pornography, lewd act and illegal possession of weapons. Human rights advocate Anatoly Razumov reported this to 7x7.

The court accused the historian of pornography production (Part 2 of Article 242.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), lewd act against a minor (Article 135 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and illegal possession of weapons (Part 1 of Article 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The Prosecutor's office of Karelia requested increasing Yury Dmitriev’s term of imprisonment from 13 to 15 years. Dmitriev pleaded not guilty. According to Anatoly Razumov, the defendant and his lawyer Viktor Anufriev are going to appeal against the court's decision to the Supreme Court of Karelia.

Court bailiffs let the historian’s relatives and the press to the pronouncement of the verdict into the courtroom. Boris Vishnevsky, the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly’s deputy, and Emilia Slabunova, the Karelian parliament’s deputy, came to support the head of the Karelian Memorial*.

"We believe [the defense and support group] that Yury Alekseevich is not guilty. As we initially decided to defend him, so we will continue to defend him legally. Both Yury Alekseevich himself and we are ready for any twists of improper cruelty," historian Anatoly Razumov, who supports Dmitriev, commented to 7x7.

This is a retrial of Yury Dmitriev's case. In September 2020, the Supreme Court of Karelia sentenced the historian to 13 years in a high-security prison for sexual assault against a minor. The court sent cases on articles on production of child pornography, lewd act and illegal possession of weapons for retrial.


Dmitriev researched mass-casualty burials in Karelia since the 1980s; in 1997, together with representatives of the St. Petersburg Memorial*, he discovered Sandarmokh, one of the largest burials of victims of Stalin’s terror.

Dmitriev was arrested in December 2016 and accused of taking pornographic pictures of his adopted daughter. The historian pleaded not guilty. He explained his actions by the fact that he had to keep a health journal of the adopted child, who needed extra care, control of physical development and health condition after the orphanage.

In April 2018, the Petrozavodsk City Court acquitted the historian of production of child pornography and possession of weapons and found him guilty only of illegal possession of weapon parts. During the case's retrial in July 2020, the court in Petrozavodsk sentenced the historian to 3.5 years in a penal colony under the article on sexual assault against his adopted daughter (paragraph "b" of Part 4 of Article 132 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The court acquitted Dmitriev under the remaining articles.

The Memorial* Human Rights Center recognized Yury Dmitriev as a political prisoner in 2017. According to the organization, Dmitriev's persecution has a political motive and is aimed at stopping his activities on the immortalization of victims of Stalin's terror. In addition, lawyers of the Memorial* Human Rights Center filed a complaint against Dmitriev's sentence with the ECHR.

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