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, 22 марта 2017 г.
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The Arrest of Karelian “Memorial” Head Yuri Dmitriev: What Is Known

Yuri Alexevich Dmitriev, a 60-year-old historian, human rights activist, and chairman of the Karelian regional branch of “Memorial”, was detained in Petrozavodsk (republic of Karelia) on December 13, 2016, under suspicion of “creating pornographic materials depicting children.”

“I don’t agree with the charges. It’s some sort of surrealism. I dare say, it’s bogus,” declared Dmitriev during the course of the court session. Dmitriev’s partner reported that on the eve of the arrest they found that their apartment had been infiltrated: someone rummaged through their things and turned on the computer, though nothing was stolen. A few days before that, Dmitriev received a few strange phone calls with questions about the “list of executioners” (apparently referencing the directory by researcher Andrei Zhukov, “Personnel of the State Security Agencies of the USSR 1935-1939,” recently published by Memorial). There were also other warning signs.

45afe90e1093b8de743de279b0692a7a.jpgPHOTO

Kirill Safronov recalls: This summer we worked together, first in Lodeinyi Pol, and then – again – on Solovki. We tried to find the burial sites from the second and third phases of Solovki [Solovki was a prison camp – trans.]. We spoke, argued, and laughed. About pedagogical means and life, which is smarter; on the arrival of Gorky to Solovki camp and the creative impotence of a dishonest person; about “the need to get married.” At that I was totally surprised, “why?” “Because a lonely old man, who took a girl from an orphanage, is suspicious. They have already come to me a few times and made inquiries.” “Come on, Yuri Alexevich, they are unlikely to sink that low. They would sooner stick with ‘counterrevolution.’” I didn’t guess.

The investigators’ version is that during the period of 2012-2015, the accused repeatedly photographed his young foster daughter, who he lived with, while she was naked, for the purpose of creating pornographic materials (the punishment for this crime is envisaged in the form of deprivation of freedom for up to 15 years). Marina Dmitriev, the foster daughter, was brought from the orphanage eight years ago. Dmitriev has two of his own adult children. On January 10, 2017, the photographs allegedly spurring Dmitriev’s arrest were published (for the first time after the arrest) in the story “What Memorial society hides” on the TV channel “Rossiya-24”.

The story has an impact on the unprepared viewer. From the first seconds, Dmitriev seems like a monster, whom pitying is impossible and justifying – even less so. Nevertheless, serious violations of journalism ethics are clear in the eyes of a specialist. For example, when covering these types of situations, it is customary to present detailed views from representatives of both sides of the legal process – but the words of Dmitriev’s lawyer are clearly cut off, and all of his speech takes about 15 seconds (!) of the video, which lasts almost 14 minutes. But there had been time to talk about the historical exhibition with caricatures of Hitler and Stalin walking together, mention the Soros Foundation, and even the CIA… What relevance does this have to the story about pedophilia accusations? None. It seems that it is more important to the authors of the video to smear human rights defenders in general and Memorial in particular than to sort out the substance of the matter.

Activatica asked Viktor Anufriev – Yuri Dmitriev’s attorney – and lawyer Elena Paltseva to comment on this story. We asked them to comment of the legality of showing materials from the investigation on federal TV and their validity. We were interested if the lawyers would have any sort of reaction to this “leak”.

6ba4b9ca3650f9f875b020adc228c5cf.jpgElena Paltseva, lawyer, photo from her personal page:

The legality of transferring the images to the TV channel and, consequently, the legality of their public use raises questions.

The Russian Code of Criminal Procedure does not allow for divulging preliminary investigation data (investigation secrets). There is one exception – if the disclosure does not contradict the interests of the preliminary investigation and is not related to the violation of the rights and legal interests of participants in the criminal proceedings. Here we understand that the transfer of the photos of children, whose status is that of victims, for publication contradicts their interests, and in my view, is directed at maintaining public curiosity about the topic.

If the TV channel received the photos illegally, that is a direct violation of Article 4 of the Russian law “On Mass Media” which interprets the spread of secrets that are specially protected by law as an abuse of the freedom of speech. In theory, there is reason for Rozkomnadzor [federal agency with media oversight – trans.] to check “Rossiya-24” and for official verification of the actions of the investigator who passed along the photos. But, if the system has worked, no checks will be made, naturally. We constantly come across the selective application of legislation.

However, I do not rule out that the TV channel used materials not from the criminal case, but from annals of the internet, in the story. This kind of perverse practice exists in the media.

Regarding requirements from guardianship agencies of such images – this version is implausible (the consideration was expressed that the photos could have been used as a journal to document the physical development of the child – comment from Activatica). The guardianship authorities have other means of controlling guardians to whom the care of minors is transferred. This is a ward visit, an assessment of living conditions, the state of their health, physical appearance and hygiene, emotional and physical development, etc. The existing rules of law do not contain requirements to provide photos of children in custody, and even less so in the nude. – Elena Paltseva told an Activatica correspondent.

8cb10cb1a193d1df98905dedf81071f2.jpgViktor Mikhailovich Anufriev, photo

Viktor Anufriev, Dmitriev’s attorney: The “leak” is illegal and there will be a reaction. The photo is probably from the case materials.

Viktor Mikhailovich promised to later tell why Dmitriev took these photos.

“I should explain this in more detail, but am now on a business trip, so I can later, but obviously the photos’ purpose was not for the production and distribution of pornographic materials.” – clarified the attorney.

A day earlier, in an interview with the 7x7 Edition, Viktor Anufiev described Rossiya-24’s story as nasty and clarified that the demonstration of photographs – “This is pressure on public opinion, on the investigative bodies, and on the court. Because the story was built in a way as if Dmitriev was already guilty. There was no presumption of innocence. There wasn’t even examination of the photos in the story, and they were issued to the whole country as pornography.” He clarified that showing these photos on television “could be regarded as the dissemination of pornography, if they are actually pornographic.”

And that’s still not all. It turns out that a representative of the investigative committee denies the transfer by investigators of the child’s photographs to the federal television channel, in a phone interview with the Patrozavodsk channel “Nika-Plus”:

The investigative committee, according to Karelian journalist Alexander Gnetnev, “refuses to comment on the image leak to the television channel…they claim that they didn’t pass anything to anyone. What was revealed on Rossiya-24 is allegedly not from the investigation materials.” This affirms that investigators did not pass along the photos on “Rossiya-24,” they deny that the incriminating photos of Dmitriev were published online, and Rossiya-24 also denies this. In this case, then, where did they come from, under what circumstances where they made, and who is depicted in them?

50bf40d5734b863b0ed82026c9fb50c7.jpgSergei Vladimirovich Krivenko, photo

We asked Sergei Krivenko, a member of the Russian presidential council for the development of civil society and human rights institutions, and member of the International Society “Memorial” board, to comment on Dmitriev’s case.

Sergei Vladimirovich, is the Dmitriev case a consequence of someone’s personal score against him, or is it an attempt to put pressure on the activities of “Memorial” in Karelia, or in Russia as a whole?

I unequivocally perceive this case as a provocation. Quite a few facts indicate this. I personally have known Dmitriev for a long time, 20 years. Firstly, before his arrest, his home was illegally infiltrated using the police: The police called Dmitriev in and held him for four hours. During this time, his partner came to visit him, she who was unable to get in at the hospital for a long time. On that very day, the head doctor called her, and she went to the hospital that day. While Dmitriev sat at the police, the apartment was infiltrated, that is, a certain special operation was conducted. Unfortunately, Dmitriev hadn’t set a password for his computer and anyone who pleased could access it. There are still a few other reasons pointing to this being a special operation.

Before this case, had there been attempts to somehow hinder the activities of “Memorial” in Karelia?

Dmitriev has been engaged with the theme of the perpetuating memory for a long time, and if in all of those years this theme didn’t cause resistance from the authorities, in the past two years or so we’ve seen the emergence of some forces, supported by various members of the authorities, who oppose the restoration of historical truth, and aim at Stalin’s rehabilitation. (Information from the FlashNord information agency, citing a source in the regional government, claims that the head of Karelia, Alexander Khudilainen, supports the idea of installing a monument to Stalin in Petrozavodsk. According to the information agency “Respublika”, from a source in the Karelian government, the head of Karelia never expressed support for this type of monument – comment from Activatica.) Therefore, any independent activity in the opposite direction, most likely, causes such a reaction. I think these silovki [politicians in the security or military services – trans.] at the regional level wanted to prevent Dmitriev’s activities, discredit him, and by that, discredit “Memorial” society.

6b6f62cbd67390917f5694a1a0255053.jpgPetrozavosk Communists gather signatures for the installment of a monument to Stalin in the city, photo: Igor Podgornyi

In general, the situation in Karelia is complex. On one hand, Karelia is a region where many exiles are left, the whole region was filled with camps and exiles, and the memory of this is alive at the personal level. And the authorities of Karelia have, for a rather long time, supported the activities of “Memorial” and various structures for perpetuating memory. When Dmitriev discovered the Sandarmokh burial site, the Karelian authorities cooperated and held a contest to landscape this place. But at the same time, there were efforts to conceal and obstruct the receipt of information on the side of the secret services. They also tried to pressure Dmitriev six years ago. On one side the authorities helped, but on the other side, some power structures interfered. And in the past couple years, pressure on Dmitriev has intensified, as an independent historian.

Why did Dmitriev actually create these photos, which were shown on television, and how did they get to journalists?

In the words of Dmitriev, told through his lawyer, he took the girl into his guardianship from an orphanage when she was three years old. She was very thin, really a starveling. Dmitriev passed special courses for fathers about guardianship, one of the sections of these courses was about controlling the state of health. This included documenting the development of the child: measuring growth, photographing the child. Dmitriev is a firm, purposeful, and persistent man, and he took this recommendation as a step to action. These photos are a kind of health album, in which he documented the development of the girl. The girl is standing with her hands raised, lowered, left, right. And not in a single photo is there any kind of special pose, and there are no other people. This is an album monitoring the state of health. He kept this up almost since the very beginning, when she was four. In recent years, her state of health has improved, she grew stronger, for 2015 there are only two or three photos there, and for 2016 there isn’t a single one. He stopped taking these photos because she more or less reached a normal child development level, though she still lags a bit. I unequivocally believe there are no grounds to consider this as pornography. A photo of a naked child is different from a photo of pornographic character, the two are very different. Just like our art, where there are many images with naked children, is not considered pornography.

Dmitriev didn’t adopt the girl, but took her under guardianship. For all of these eight years, the guardianship authorities constantly monitored Dmitriev. And over all of these years there has not been a single case of complaints about pressure, violence, molestation, etc. And it’s hard to imagine that this would happen from a clean slate. This is why I perceive this as a provocation.

And concerning how these photos got to journalists, in the Criminal Procedure Code, we have a special article that says investigation materials may only be transferred with the permission of the investigator, and in relation to minors, only with the agreement of their legal representatives as well. It seems to me that the law was violated in this case, the investigator didn’t have the right to share these photographs and the media didn’t have the right to distribute these photographs.

Could these photographs have been put online while Dmitriev’s home was being infiltrated?

As far as I know, these photos weren’t on the internet. The article under which he is charged concerns only the production of pornography, but not its distribution. The investigators don’t have the facts of its distribution, transfer to other people or placement online.

What can “Memorial” do and what is it doing to protect Dmitriev?

“Memorial” is carefully monitoring the case’s progress. Of course, we will seek the restoration of Dmitriev’s honest name, we are also appealing to Fedotov in the Human Rights Council, to the Commissioner of human rights, and to law enforcement agencies. We are bringing attention to all violations that we come across, and are preparing an appeal to the prosecutor under the cause of the film that was shown. We’re not just tracking the case, but will also actively build our position for Dmitriev’s defense and will carry it out.

Immediately after the appearance of the story “What Memorial society hides”, a turbulent discussion unfolded online, the participants of which voiced very different opinions.

Karelian journalist Maksim Tikhonov writes:

By time, the large part of this program was devoted to not Dmitriev personally, but to “Memorial.” For me, this confirms the idea that the main goal initially appears to be “Memorial,” and the main task of this whole “operation” is to discredit Memorial as a “foreign agent,” “energy of the people,” and a group of pedophiles. Dmitriev, alas, fell into the batch of this operation: they found of him what they were able to get ahold of and used it.

The fact that the investigation (contrary to Putin’s recently voiced imperative of the inadmissibility of such actions) brought the photographs and other details of the charges to the public eye, unfortunately, signifies an end for Dmitriev. This means the investigation has begun to go in for the kill. “On the shot” as they themselves call it. The “court” has already taken place and the “verdict” already rendered. Dmitriev will not be released from prison alive.

As relates to the statement by the Union of Journalists – to withdraw, to not withdraw – I don’t see a matter for discussion. It is really unclear, they simply don’t give a damn about these statements…

Speaking of the statement by the Union of Journalists, Maksim Tikhonov is referring to the proposal by political scientist Oleg Reut to withdraw the statement of the Union of Karelian Journalists in connection with the arrest of Y. A. Dmitriev since “the text of the statement is contradictory and contains unsubstantiated statements of distrust for the investigation, which in its turn, ‘provided more information on the case’” (as was demanded by Karelian journalists in their appeal – comment from Activatica).

In the group “the Case of Dmitriev,” the following have come out in support of Dmitriev:

- Rector of the Church of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Butovo, a member of the church council of the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia to perpetuate the memory of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, archpriest Kirill Kaleda

- Abbot of the Lodeinopolskii temple of Peter and Paul, archpriest Mikhail Nikolaev

- Journalist, TV presenter, writer Alexander Arkhangelsky

- Head of the center “Returned Names” at the Russian National Library, member of the Saint Petersburg commission of restoring the rights of rehabilitated victims of political repression, Anatolii Razumov

- Chairman of the board of the “Repentance” fund, candidate of historical sciences, Honored worker of the Komi Republic, Mikhail Rogachev

- Director of the Society of the Rehabilitated in Novgorod Region, Nikolai Olshansky

- Professor of the Russian state professional-pedagogical university, head of the “Returned Names” project, doctor of historical sciences, Viktor Kirillov

- Senior researcher of the department of contemporary history of the Orthodox Church of Saint Tikhon’s University, Lidia Golovkova

- Senior researcher of the department of history of the Solovetsky Archipelago (Solovetsky museum-reserve), Olga Bochkareva

- International society “Memorial” (on January 9, 2017, the Board of the Saint Petersburg “Memorial” society adopted an appeal to the head of the Republic of Karelia, A. P. Khudilainen, requesting emergency intervention in Dmitriev’s case)

- Moscow International Film School

- Ukrainian public figures have also turned to the international community.

68889fe77be18f9e6181c8f9e3d0d379.jpgOlga Sedakova, photo

Poetess Olga Sedakova published a post in defense of Yuri Dmitriev on her Facebook page: I only met personally with Yuri Alexevich Dmitriev once, at the “Plain Russian” conference, dedicated to the restoration of the history of the Soviet period, or rather, to the history of repression: to the innumerable victims of this regime. But I am familiar with the enormous and selfless work that he has been occupied with for many years, searching for burial sites and restoring the memory of people who they would have liked to have destroyed twice – first physically and then by erasing their names and memory from our common history. This second destruction must be resisted, and this is what people are doing, carrying – I would say – the service of conscience in our country. I know how much respect Yuri Alexevich enjoys from the people who are engaged in this work. I know how many people are thankful to him for the restored memory of their relatives who disappeared without a trace.

The presentation of such monstrous accusations does not inspire any sort of trust in me. It is hard not to think that this is a cause, chosen to prevent Y. A. Dmitriev from continuing his work, which they do to many of us, unfortunately – like a bone in the throat. Historians of repression, that is, of state crimes, do not enjoy official support.

The conviction of Yru Alexevich Dmitriev would signify to me that the era of repression is not reaching its end in our torn country.

Petrozavodskan Vadim Slutskii posted a petition on the site Change.org to the “not indifferent citizens of Russia” – “to free the historian Yuri Dmitriev.” As of January 12, 2017, this demand was supported by over 6000 people.

d7e29b6cf2b1318b0df67f11cd864303.jpgYuri Alexevich Dmitriev was detained in Petrozavodsk on December 13, 2016. His computer and mobile phone were seized. The investigation charges Dmitriev with the production of pornographic materials using images of minors. On December 15, the court decided to hold Dmitriev under arrest for two months.

On 10 February the arrest was extended for a month and on 9 March - for two months more, until 12 April. Apart from that Yuri Dmitriev was indicted on two more charges: under the clause 135 (non-forcible sexual assault) and clause 222 (illegal possession of a firearm) of the RF Criminal Code.

Translation by Lilya Morevna. The russian version is here

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