Human Rights Council monitoring prosecution of historian Yury Dmitriev

posted 23 Feb 2017, 01:56 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 23 Feb 2017, 02:00 ]
13 February 2017


Sergei Krivenko (pictured): The Presidential Council for Human Rights is monitoring the investigation into the case against the Karelian historian Yury Dmitriev

Sergei Krivenko, a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights of the Russian Federation, announced during a joint meeting with the Human Rights Council of Karelia that the members of the Standing Committee of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights on Precedents are monitoring the case brought against Yury Dmitriev, the head of the Karelian branch of Memorial, against whom pornography charges have been brought.

The website of the Presidential Council for Human Rights quotes Sergei Krivenko as saying, “The committee began monitoring the case as soon as the news broke about Yury Dmitriev’s arrest. All Russian citizens are entitled to protection…. Certain groups of people, such as solicitors, lawyers, journalists and human rights activists, stand apart from the rest, and cases involving individual members of these groups should be handled with particular care in order to ensure that they are not being persecuted for their activities.”

He said that human rights activists who had visited Karelia between 8 and 10 February 2017 had discussed the case with representatives of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and Dmitriev’s defence team.

According to Krivenko, “We visited the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Child Protection Services, and we met Yury Dmitriev’s lawyer and talked to members of his family. The documents which we saw suggested that the case had been trumped up, to put it mildly. Investigations are now underway, and we very much hope that the forthcoming examination by the court will be impartial.”

According to the information provided by representatives of the agencies in charge of the custody and guardianship of minors, no criticisms were lodged during the entire period the foster child was living with Dmitriev, who acted in the capacity of official guardian; this is confirmed by the exclusively positive testimonials received by the Child Protection Services from the child’s polyclinic and school.

Yury Dmitriev is a former recipient of the literary prize “Golden Pen of Rus” and a father of three children, as well as being a leading investigator into sites of political repression in the region.

Dmitriev is most famous for his work as the driving force behind the setting up of the Sandarmokh memorial complex, the largest in Karelia, which was built on a site where thousands of political prisoners were executed and buried during the Soviet era. A Day of Remembrance and Mourning is held there every year on 5 August, attended by people from all over the world.

The Human Rights Council had previously asked the Investigative Committee to review the legality of the criminal case instigated against the human rights activist; the latter confirmed that such a review had been set in motion, and that its outcome would be forwarded to the Council.

Translated by Joanne Reynolds