On July 11, the trial of the well-known Gulag researcher Yuri Dmitriev, accused of making pornographic images of his under-age daughter, continued at the Petrozavodsk City Court.
The Dmitriev case is still being heard behind closed doors, because it concerns a sexual offence against a minor. As before, a support group made up of his friends, colleagues, acquaintances and sympathizers, remained in the corridor leading to the courtroom.
This time, the guards who usually accompany Dmitriev to the courtroom, were particularly numerous and heavyweight: about eight people (instead of the usual two), and of athletic build. According to someone working for the federal bailiff service, it is usually the judge who requests a certain type of escort for a prisoner: in this case the request was for ‘professional fighters’. Judge Marina Nosova further requested, when Dmitriev was taken out of the courtroom, that all who had gathered in the corridor be moved so that they ‘did not interfere with the passage of the convoy’. One of the bailiffs asked people not to applaud the defendant. They agreed to the request to move, but still responded with an ovation when Dmitriev was taken out of the courthouse at the end of the day’s hearing.
His defence lawyer Viktor Anufriev said the trial was progressing as expected. For expert witnesses from St. Petersburg and Moscow testified for the defense: Irina Levinskaya, D.Sc. (history), a leading researcher at the St. Petersburg Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Olga Boitsova, Ph.D. (history), a researcher at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography; Anna Shmaina-Velikanova, D.Sc. (Cultural Studies), Professor at the Center for the Study of Religion of the Russian State Humanitarian University (Moscow); and Alexei Larionov, a Senior Researcher of the Department of Western European Art of the Hermitage Museum (St Petersburg). like Professor Lev Shcheglov, who spoke in court on July 22, they gave an assessment of the conclusions drawn by the Center for Sociocultural Expertise, which formed the basis of the charge.
According to Anufriev, however, the court forbade them to give the media details of what they said in court before the verdict has been reached. At the same time, Anufriev said that none of the experts supported the prosecution conclusion that the photographs contained elements of pornography.
‘The court permitted highly-qualified specialists to speak, and they announced their conclusions,’ Anufriev said. ‘All our petitions were satisfied, and added to the case materials. This will help to establish the objective truth and ensure a thorough examination of the case.’
‘All the experts concluded that the materials were not pornographic and the examination, on which the prosecution case is based, was not substantiated: it contradicted their approach both from a scientific and a methodological point of view,’ Anufriev added.
The next hearing is scheduled for August 1. According to Anufriev, he is planning for Yuri Dmitriev to address the court on August 22, and he intends to hear the verdict by September 1.
A well-known researcher of Stalinist repressions, the head of the Karelian branch of the 'Memorial' society, Yuri Dmitriev, was detained in his apartment on December 13, 2016 on suspicion of making pornographic pictures of his adopted daughter. The photos, according to the historian’s defence team, were a diary of the girl's health, who was malnourished when she came to him from the children’s home.
On March 9, 2017, new charges appeared: in addition to producing pornographic materials depicting minors, he was charged with Article 135 of the Russian Criminal Code ('Non-violent sexual abuse’) and 222 ('Illegal keeping of firearms').
On May 11, the court extended the term of detention of the historian until October 22, for the duration of the trial. On May 17, Petrozavodsk city court held a preliminary meeting on the criminal case. On June 1, Petrozavodsk city court began hearing the case in camera. On June 22, Professor Lev Shcheglov, D.Sc. (Medicine), president of the National Institute of Sexology, spoke in court. He gave an assessment of the evaluation of the photographs, commissioned by the prosecution from the Center for Socio-cultural Expertise. According to Shcheglov, there were no pornographic pictures in Dmitriev's case.
Hundreds of people have voiced their support for Dmitriev.
Among them are writers, scientists, public figures, human rights activists, journalists, musicians, artists, Orthodox priests and those who have participated in the international days of memory at Sandarmokh, Krasny Bor and Solovki of the victims of the Great Terror.
Famous Russians, such as the writer Dmitry Bykov, musician Boris Grebenshchikov, actor Yevgeny Tsyganov, writer Alexander Arkhangelsky and film director Andrei Zvyagintsev, have all made video messages with words of encouragement.
Anna Yarovaya, photo by Igor Podgorny, «7x7»