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Member of Presidential Human Rights Council Sergei Krivenko on the case of Yury Dmitriev: The country is sliding towards self-isolation [Chernika]

posted 4 Jun 2017, 13:58 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Jun 2017, 14:05 ]
25 May 2017 

Source: Chernika

Photo: Chernika

Sergei Krivenko, a member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society Development and Human Rights, visited Petrozavodsk to take part in a presentation of books by arrested historian Yury Dmitriev.

At the request by Chernika [an online journal from Karelia] human rights defender Sergei Krivenko commented on the criminal case against Yury Dmitriev, the editor and publisher of several books commemorating the victims of Stalinist terror. Yury Dmitriev also found several locations of mass burial of victims of the terror in Karelia. Krivenko believes the case against Dmitriev lacks evidence and is unsubstantiated. He suggests that Dmitriev’s contacts with international educational and human rights organizations have not been forgiven. Sergei Krivenko also believes that the warning by the Polish Foundation Osrodek Karta [which focuses on the documentation of the recent Polish and European history] that it would begin a campaign to include Karelian law enforcement officials in the so-called Magnitsky List to be a “just retribution”.

“The charges do not add up at all. There is no basis for them.” the human rights defender states. “If someone does something unlawful, there should be some traces, at least some bits of evidence, some signs. He took in the girl [his foster child] eight years ago and I spoke to the authorities responsible for foster care. They had no concerns at all. Every six months they paid a visit and checked on the girl and her circumstances. There was also never a comment from her school. If there had been abuse, the girl could have talked to her friends about it, or might have spoken at school about it. But nothing like that happened.

There is no evidence of distribution of “pornographic photos.” I have known Dmitriev for about 20 years. He is a man with a fascination for recording things. He recorded the execution spots, the places of mass burial, he recorded the former Gulag camps everywhere in Karelia. And here, when he was told to record the health condition of this girl, this is what he did. He took photos of a naked girl. It is vile to consider this pornography and to prosecute him for these photos. What the authorities did amounts to a crime. Why did they do it?

It seems he was in the way of someone – but it is not entirely clear whose way. He was supported by the government of Karelia, it supported the creation of the memorial site at Sandormokh. Maybe some other government structures are behind his prosecution. Maybe because of his work, his contacts with international structures and organizations, because he cared for and brought to Sandarmokh delegations from Ukraine, Poland, Finland and the Baltics, would indicate this. Maybe someone in Karelia is unhappy about this international aspect of Sandarmokh. But you cannot hide from it – it really is a memorial site of international importance.

Currently the country is sliding towards self-isolation, back to the Soviet Union. International contacts and connections are frowned on. And maybe this explains his prosecution. I cannot see anything else, as much as I tried to understand the situation.

What we are going through is some kind of phantasmagoria. It is prosecution for establishing the international status of Sandarmokh.

The Presidential Council will continue to monitor the case of Dmitriev. We help with the preparation of some expert assessments, we are examining the charges, our lawyers are preparing their review of this indictment. We are looking into the expert evaluations that were prepared by the investigators. We hope the court will sort all this out and quash this fabricated prosecution of Yury Dmitriev.

Translated by Friederike Behr
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