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Supporters of the arrested historian Dmitriev answer questions about him

"There was something that shocked me: he was escorted to the first court session by eight people. Eight people! And two more were in the courtroom."

The trial of the Karelian researcher of the Stalinist repressions Yury Dmitriev will continue in the Petrozavodsk city court on September 18. Judge Alexander Merkov will consider a case on producing pornography. The court acquitted Dmitriev on April 5, 2018. But this decision was canceled on June 14 in the Supreme Court of Karelia and sent for reconsideration. People who support the head of the Karelian "Memorial" from the first day of arrest in 2016 will gather in the corridors of the Petrozavodsk court again. The day before a new stage of litigation, journalist Svetlana Kulchytskaya talked with friends and associates of the researcher. They talked about the reasons they support him, what kind of relationship they have and what kind of person is Yury Dmitriev. The online journal «7x7» publishes these interviews.

 

Petrozavodsk civil activists Andrey Oborin and Tamara Oborina 

— What trait of Yury Dmitriev do you like most?

Andrey Oborin: You see, we hardly know each other. I did not know him before. The first time I saw him was when he was brought to a court hearing and when he was released, near the courthouse. We are not acquainted.

— So why do you come to court?

AO: I do not know. Some inner sense duty, or something...

— What do you think is the main problem in this story? Why is Dmitriev tormented?

AO: They will not forgive him for Sandarmokh. Basically, this position, that there is a memory and while there is a memory, there is a people, a nation, is unacceptable for... well, I'll call it the KGB-state.

— How can this all end?

AO: Unfortunately, I can not share optimism, because there can be anything in this country. It may turn out that if at the time of sentencing it will be easier or for some reason more profitable to release him (out of external considerations and external image), then he will be released. But they can arrest him for twenty years in the blink of an eye.

Tamara Oborina: In general, every trial leaves a very strong, always emotional impression. This is a huge number of absolutely terrific people around, with many of whom we met on this tragic occasion and became friends, we keep in touch. There is already kind of a brotherhood. After the prosecutor demanded nine years of strict regime for Dmitriev, everyone was so depressed and terrified. Katya [Dmitriev's daughter Katerina Klodt] was crying, it was so hard. And suddenly the next meeting — with justification and glee. There was, in my opinion, the greatest turnout of all time of these trials. A huge number of people came from Petersburg, from Moscow. There were a lot of our people, even those who, perhaps, did not come to ordinary meetings. This glee, when we left the building and could not leave for more than an hour, because we congratulated each other, we were so united and happy. This is the moment to remember, no matter how it all ends.

— If I gave you a brush, what would be your portrait of Yury?

AO: It’s a difficult question. Never came from this perspective. I've been in the mountains many times. Well, let’s take Edelweiss: there is a very strange vegetation, it grows through the stones, it's very modest: small leaves, small flowers, very simple, but the will to live — that is… Well, that is probably Dmitriev.

— Tamara, what about you?

TO: Well, a very unconventional, no ordinary, very courageous person. And when we stood in single pickets to support him in the very beginning, when people approached and asked who is Dmitriev, very few people knew who he was — the name was not memorable. So, when people approached and asked "Who is this?", I for myself derived such a formula: the man who discovered Sandarmokh. And I saw how people’s faces changed at once, as soon as they heard this word. And immediately, from some abstract figure, they get some concrete image. Dmitriev and Sandarmokh are inseparable for me. And of course, a person of exceptional courage.

 

Neighbor and friend of Yury Dmitriev Natalia Vishkovskaya

— Could you make a verbal portrait of Yury Dmitriev? What kind of portrait would that be?

— Well, it's, probably, easier for me to describe him as my soul mate. Because he looks like my father. He met with my father after this [criminal case]. It was found out that they worked together at the mica factory, and my father came and supported him. An open person with piercing eyes, a sharp tongue, can be very tough, but he has a big heart. It is clear that he knows a lot, and he attracts, people want to communicate with him, to question him. But of course we did not talk about this case. He told he baptized Natasha on the Sekirnaya mountain. It was literally two days before he was intercepted on the road to the cemetery [on June 26, 2018, Dmitriev was detained for violating the pledge not to leave the place. Later it became known about the initiation of a new criminal case under the article "Indecent assault"]. And he said: "I immediately told Natashka: You are the only girl, baptized in such a place, and you will have very hard struggles in life, but you have a very strong defense." Later, I read it somewhere in the interview, but he told me personally, and somehow it really sank into my heart. Most of all, he is worried about her, of course. Therefore, everything that happened… I believe, they could come up with such an ugly article only against a strong person.

— If you had to entrust with a child to Dmitriev, would you do it?

— Of course. I invited him to my place. I have a good coffee maker, and he used to come, realized that coffee was delicious [laughs]. He goes for a walk in the morning, about ten o'clock, and I can see him from the first floor — I tell him: "Yury Alekseyevich, stop by for coffee." Well, he brings the dog to the fifth floor, comes down, drinks coffee, and my Emilka [daughter] is also here, one-year-old.

— And what are you talking about over coffee?

— Well, we talk about everything, being neighbours. My eldest [daughter] said: "This is the first time I went to the store myself, my mom gave me money, I bought bread and milk." And he immediately answered: "Oh, and my Natasha learned to use the card when she was seven." It turns out, there is still something to strive for in terms of independence. So, we talk about absolutely everything. We didn’t raise any serious topics, just some usual subjects.

— Does communication with him change the worldview? Does it affect the attitude to the world, to the country, to the state?

— I have long had such a worldview, absolutely the same, I think, with those people who support him. In general, in my environment there are few people who watch First Channel and follow the Mundial and so on. I grew up in this environment, this person is very close to me, although he never spoke ill of politics, he never expressed his political views publicly. He was engaged in his own business, he did it well. Indeed, he is very enthusiastic. When my father came to him and began talking about his relatives, of whom we knew very little, because there were some very strange stories, Yury immediately started to dig through the archives. My father said: you know, Dmitriev is obsessed [laughs] — I just suggested, and he immediately started to search for our name in the computer. A unique person. Probably, one of a kind.

 

Master of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving Alexander Selyutsky, supports Yury Dmitriev during court sessions

— Have you known Yury for a long time?

— No, I became closely acquainted with him after he was released, when one could already personally communicate with him. Firstly, I must say that I'm visually impaired, I do not see anything, and that's why it's quite difficult to communicate with me in this respect, but I feel the people well. And I felt Yura very well.

— And what did you feel? What kind of person is he? What is your portrait of Yura?

— He's a very vulnerable and very decent person.

— You came to all the sessions, am I right?

— Yes.

— Who brings you to the court? [Alexander Selyutsky is visually impaired]

— Alla, daughter.

— So, she is also worried.

— Yes, she is!

— Are you discussing it, are you talking about it at home? Does she provide you information, read news?

— Yes, she reads. Information is provided not only by her. A nurse also participates in this [laughs]. She went to court, when she could, and she knows. She provides me all [news], all the information that you can listen to. I am 85 years old. I've lived a lot, I understand people, and I can say that Yura is a decent person. A decent person and a person who does a very important work. But, apparently, not everyone likes this.

— Why do you care about this personally?

— Because I'm also a decent person.

 

Friend of Yury Dmitriev Dmitry Tsvibel

— What do you know about the relationship between Yura [Dmitriev] and his daughter Natasha? You saw them together, tell us, please.

— I met Natasha (I have known Yury for a long time) at one of the presentations of the books that we were publishing. He came and introduced her: "Natashenka, a very nice girl." They were very touching: he was listening, and she, naturally, was bored, and was busy pulling the hairs from his beard. And so, everyone was moved. I say: "Yura, go away with your daughter, let us conduct a presentation!" And then there was a material, by the way, that local historian Yury Dmitriev appeared at the presentation with his daughter. It was very touching, and they became the center of attention. So, such relationship. Then Yura always said, when he came, that he had to go — he was expected at home. And he felt great, as he had to pay more attention to home. And a daughter, I did not know that she was adopted. I found out and was very glad for him — another little creature got a home, a warm one. Yura, with his toughness, was able to do it. I asked him, by the way: "Yura, tell me, how do you manage to do it? I fail at home"[laughs]. And he calls it as he sees it — he told me that I did not know how to bring up and so on. He said to coddle less!

— Could you describe his portrait?

— He has strength in his eyes, this is the most difficult thing to draw. You can draw a beard, but his eyes... A very deep look. It is clear that this man, besides the external, has a very rich inner world. It's always reflected in the eyes, there's nothing you can do. Everything else can be changed, but the eyes are everything. If there are eyes ... Very attentive, by the way, always says only what he thinks, maybe in our country it's not very common to say what you think — not always and not everywhere, to put it mildly. There was something that shocked me: he was escorted to the first court session by eight people. Eight people! And two more were in the courtroom. I can congratulate the country. If there is no greater criminal in the world, we live happily! All internal troops are focused on bringing Yura to the courtroom. Our country should be ashamed of it.

— And what personality trait attracted you the most?

— You know, dedication and conviction in the work that he does, no matter what he chooses to do. He simply will not take a case that he considers unnecessary or worthless to waste his life. He perfectly understands that the life that has been given to us is very short. The further you go, the more you understand that if you did not do it today, then would not do it tomorrow. Moreover, he is at the age of maturity now, and he tries to use every second to work, work and work. Because no one will do it, exept him, no offense. And I know that the street will be called in his honor, the monument will be put, but after.

— How do you think, is it possible to release him, after all? And how to do it?

— Maybe. If this wave does not choke. You see, to come from Moscow, you need money, you need free time, and I think: maybe, they hope that people simply do not have enough physical strength to come here, and as soon as there will be less attention to this case, they will do an ugly thing. But still I hope. And there is also a good thing about everything that they did with Yura: for those young people who come here, that will become a life lesson. Not a hatred, but a feeling that something depended on me, and I did what I could, no matter how it ended — I could lose, but I felt that I'm not a cog, I'm human!

 

Neighbor and friend of Yury Dmitriev Valentina Levchinskaya

— How long have you known Yury Alexeyevich?

— For a long time!

— You are a woman, you have children. You must feel everything, woman's intuition. Could you suggest that the thing he is accused of could really happen?

— No, definitely not.

— Why do you think so?

— Well, I communicated with him. Both with him, and Natasha, I saw their relationship with each other and what an open child she was.

— How did they communicate? What was the most important thing between them?

— They had a thorough understanding of each other, though, he raised her sometimes harshly, but it’s life, you know. He taught her to go to the store and the fact that she was a woman and should take care of herself, so it would be easier for her in the future. He raised her.

— And what were her feelings for him, in your opinion?

— Very nice! She always runs up to him: "Daddy! Daddy!" Embracing him... I can't even process the thought. Initially, when we began to communicate with him, he seemed rude to me. And after a while you begin to understand that behind this external rudeness lies a rather vulnerable and soft person. You do not even ask for anything, and he will guess in some way that you have a problem or something. He offers his help right away, you don’t have to ask even. Natalia lived on the first floor, she died already four years ago, and we went with him to the cemetery; she had cancer, he helped her all the time. Like, let's go for a walk, take her out to the street, pushed her to life.

— How do you personally feel about what happened to him?

— I will not say that this is my personal tragedy or close to it, because I feel that an innocent person is accused of such terrible things wrongfully. And he must be protected, by all means.

— How do you think they found you? [Valentina drove Yury Dmitriev to the cemetery and the monastery on June 26, 2018, when he was detained a second time]

— I think we were already on the hook, because when we went to the cemetery, did everything there and drove on. And when they interrogated me: the investigators immediately invited me the next day, they asked: "When were you? When did you come to an agreement?" And all the rest... I said: "We went to the cemetery." "And where is the grave?" I said: "The first plot and the cross is scorched, you can check it." So, they did. It seems, they already followed us at the cemetery. And when we drove up to the Olonets station, the traffic policeman already started to block the way, and he already knew that we would stop. There was a car. He [the traffic policeman] probably just had an apb to stop the car.

— It seems to be some kind of a boyish act.

— Adventurism. I asked him: "Did you think well enough to go to the monastery?" I asked not once, he said — everything is fine. Well, I'm a weak woman — I could not refuse [laughing]. He, perhaps, had to do it for himself, to assert himself, to aim for the next stage. But he did not expect, of course, that they would return such a terrible article.


A researcher of the Stalinist repression in Karelia, the head of the Karelian branch of the "Memorial", was among the group that discovered the mass burial of the shot prisoners in the Sandarmokh tract. On December 13, 2016 Dmitriev was detained in his apartment. The reason was a denunciation: a local historian allegedly stored pornographic pictures of his adopted daughter on the computer. Two days later, Dmitriev was placed in jail for two months, after which the term of arrest was extended many times.

On April 5, 2018, the Petrozavodsk court acquitted the researcher, but the Supreme Court of Karelia canceled the decision on June 14. Yury Dmitriev was again detained on June 27. The next day it became known that the Investigative Committee instituted a new criminal case under the article "Violent acts of a sexual nature against a minor". On July 15 Dmitriev was sent to St. Petersburg for a new psychiatric examination.

On August 21, 2018 Petrozavodsk City Court extended the arrest of Dmitriev until October 26.

Anna Yarovaya, Svetlana Kulchitskaya, «7x7»

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