In Russia, gulag historian Yuri Dmitriev sentenced to fifteen years in prison

In Russia, the historian Yuri Dmitriev, a specialist in Stalinist repression, was sentenced, Monday, December 27, to fifteen years of detention for sexual violence against a child.

The conviction of this figure of the human rights NGO Memorial concludes the first of three judicial meetings in three days linked to this organization, which risks liquidation this week. It was pronounced by a court in Petrozavodsk, Karelia, a region in the north-west of the country where Mr. Dmitriev ran a Memorial branch.

« Yuri Dmitriev took fifteen years », posted Memorial in a terse message on his Telegram channel. This adds two years to the sentence handed down in 2020 in the same case, considered by supporters of the historian as a measure of retaliation for his research into the murderous purges of the Soviet era.

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Work on mass graves of the Soviet era

Memorial, pillar of Russian civil society since the fall of the USSR, faces two trials aimed at its liquidation, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. « I am ashamed for what is happening », said historian Anatoly Razumov, specializing in the study of Stalinist repressions, adding that he was convinced that Mr. Dmitriev would one day be rehabilitated. Asked by the press, the spokesperson for the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov, for his part said that the Kremlin does not comment on court decisions.

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Mr Dmitriev was arrested and charged in 2016 on child pornography charges while in possession of photos of his naked adopted daughter. He assured that these photos were intended to follow the growth of the girl, physically disabled, and had been acquitted in 2018. But after several other passages in court, he was sentenced to thirteen years of detention last year.

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For many NGOs, Mr. Dmitriev pays for his research on the extent of Stalinist repressions, a page in history whose importance the Kremlin tries to downplay because it contradicts the official discourse on heroism and violence. greatness of Russia, heir to the USSR. Mr. Dmitriev has spent decades locating mass graves and exhuming the remains of victims. Under Vladimir Putin – who is a former officer of the KGB, the heir to the political police forces of Lenin and Stalin – access to state archives relating to these matters was considerably reduced and the identities of the performers of the purges classified as secret. .

The World with AFP

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