Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev, a specialist in Stalinist repression, was sentenced Monday to 15 years in detention for sexual violence against a child, a political affair according to his supporters. The conviction of this figure of Memorial, an NGO for the defense of human rights and guardian of the memory of the victims of the gulags, is the first of three judicial meetings in three days in connection with this organization which risks liquidation this week. « Iourï Dmitriev a pris 15 ansMemorial said on his Telegram channel. This sentence increases by two years the sentence handed down in 2020 in the same case, considered by the historian’s supporters as a measure of reprisal for his research on the murderous purges of the Soviet era.
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The sentence was handed down by a court in Petrozavodsk in Karelia, a region in northern Russia where Yurï Dmitriev headed a Memorial branch. This organization, a pillar of Russian civil society since the fall of the USSR, is facing two separate liquidation trials scheduled in court on Tuesday and Wednesday. Yuri Dmitriev was arrested and charged in 2016 on child pornography charges because he had photos of his adopted daughter naked. He assured that these pictures were intended to follow the growth of the girl and had been acquitted in 2018. But after several court appointments, he was sentenced to 13 years of detention, a sentence increased to 15 years on Monday. For many NGOs, Yurï Dmitriev pays for his research on the extent of the Stalinist repressions, a page in history whose importance the Kremlin tries to minimize because it contradicts the official discourse on heroism and greatness. of Russia, heir to the USSR.
Yuri Dmitriev has spent decades locating mass graves and exhuming the remains of victims of Stalinist repression. Under Vladimir Putin, a former officer of the KGB, the heir to Lenin and Stalin’s political police forces, access to state archives on these matters was drastically reduced and the identities of the performers of the purges classified as secret.