Yuri Dmitriev. Photo by Gleb Yarovoi. Courtesy of 7X7
Court Acquits Karelian Historian Yuri Dmitriev of Pornography Charges
March 5, 2018
In Petrozavodsk, Judge Marina Nosova acquitted Yuri Dmitriev, head of Memorial Karelia and a historian of the Great Terror, of charges he had produced pornography involving images of minors.
The judge acquitted Mr. Dmitriev on the charges of manufacturing pornographic matter depicting minors and committing nonviolent acts of sexual abuse. On the charge of illegal possession of a firearm, the judge sentenced Mr. Dmitriev to two years and six months of police supervision. Deducting the time Mr. Dmitriev already spent in the Petrozavodsk Remand Prison, he will be under police supervision for three months. During this time, he will have to report to a parole officer periodically.
Defense attorney Viktor Anufriev commented on the court’s decision.
“Yesterday, the media quoted the president’s statement that judges who failed to uphold the law should look for other jobs. Today’s verdict is confirmation the president’s statement was heeded. Yuri Alexeyevich has been acquitted on nearly all counts. The court awarded him the right to vindication and compensation for pain and suffering. He was convicted of possessing part of a smoothbore gun and sentenced to two years and six months of police supervision, meaning he must report to the parole inspector twice a month. He spent one year, one month, and fifteen days in police custody. One day in custody is equal to two days of community service, meaning he has already served two years and three months of his sentence,” said Mr. Anufriev.
Yan Rachinsky, chair of the International Memorial Society, came to Petrozavodsk for the reading of the verdict.
“It’s a completely outrageous case. When a man like this, the champion of a cause, is accused of god knows what, the accusation cannot be real. My natural reaction is to do what I can to voice my solidarity. Solidarity takes various shapes. But today is the day of the verdict. I have been more worried about the plight of a specific person than how it has affected Memorial. This is much more important. But yes, of course, various contemptible means of mass disinformation have glommed onto the story. What can you do? You cannot force anyone to be honest,” said Mr. Rachinsky.
Like the entire trial, the verdict was announced in closed chambers. [Verdicts must be read out in open court according to Russian law—TRR.] Before the hearing, court bailiffs blocked the hallway, and reporters, friends, and Mr. Dmitriev’s supporters were unable to approach the courtroom doors the entire time.
Mr. Dmitriev was detained on December 13, 2016. According to police investigators, he had photographed his foster daughter while she was naked. The historian’s defense counsel claimed the photos were part of a diary, charting the girl’s health, that Mr. Dmitriev kept for children’s protection services because his foster daughter was abnormally thin. Court-appointed experts corroborated these claims.
Mr. Dmitriev’s trial in Petrozavodsk City Court commenced on June 1, 2017. The case was heard in closed chambers. Mr. Dmitriev was charged under three articles of the Russian Federal Criminal Code: Article 242.2 (production of pornographic matter depicting minors), Article 135 (nonviolent sexual abuse), and Article 222 (illegal possession of a firearm).
During the investigation, the photographs in question were subjected to two forensic examinations. The first examination deemed the photographs pornographic. The second examination, on the contrary, found no traces of pornography in them.
On January 22, 2018, the Serbsky Institute performed a psychiatric examination of Mr. Dmitriev, for which purpose the historian was transported under armed guard to Moscow. On February 27, 2018, the court announced Mr. Dmitriev had been deemed mentally healthy.
On January 27, 2018, Mr. Dmitriev was released from remand prison on his own recognizance. In the first interview he granted after his release, he spoke of life in prison and his plans to finish a book.
On March 20, 2018, Petrozavodsk City Prosecutor Yelena Askerova asked the court to sentence Mr. Dmitriev to nine years in a maximum security penal colony. On March 22, 2018, Mr. Anufriev said the Dmitriev case was a mockery of the historian’s foster daughter. A series of solo pickets in support of Mr. Dmitriev took place in Petrozavodsk on March 25 and March 26, 2018.
Translated by the Russian Reader. Read my previous coverage of the Dmitriev case.
- “Defense Asks for Acquittal of Yuri Dmitriev on All Charges,” 25 March 2018
- “Historian Yuri Dmitriev Released on His Own Recognizance,” 27 January 2018
- “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” 25 January 2018
- “Anna Yarovaya: Rewriting Sandarmokh,” 29 December 2017
- “Emilia Slabunova: Why Is Nikita Mikhalkov Not in Jail with Yuri Dmitriev?” 4 December 2017
- “Court Extends Yuri Dmitriev’s Arrest,” 15 October 2017
- “Maria Eismont: The Dmitriev Case Is the Most Important Thing Happening in Russia Right Now,” 9 June 2017
- “Terror in the Life of Yuri Dmitriev,” 3 June 2017
- “The Yuri Dmitriev Affair,” 1 March 2017