Russian court extends 13-year jail sentence for Gulag historian Yuri Dmitriev in sex abuse case

His supporters claim that the charges against Dmitriev are fabricated

Namita Singh
Tuesday 28 December 2021 13:00
Comments
<p>File: Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev is escorted by police officers after a court hearing in Petrozavodsk</p>

File: Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev is escorted by police officers after a court hearing in Petrozavodsk

A Russian court extended the 13-year jail term of historian Yuri Dmitriev by another two years, taking his total sentence to 15 years.

The historian, who uncovered mass graves of Stalin’s Gulags, was convicted last year for sexually abusing his adopted daughter, a charge he has denied.

On Monday, Petrozavodsk City Court found him guilty of possessing images of child sexual abuse and indecent acts against his adopted daughter, as wells as possession of weapon components, as it increased his jail sentence.

Dmitriev, 65, a local head of the prominent Russian rights group Memorial, was first arrested in December 2016 for possessing naked photographs of his adopted daughter, reported DW, he was however acquitted in 2018.

According to the outlet, the historian said, the nude photographs were related to the child’s malnourishment in case of problems with social services, as she was underweight at the time of the adoption. The experts backed his claims and classified the images as not that of child sex abuse.

The case was however, opened a few months later and he was found guilty of sexual assault in July last year.

He was initially awarded a jail sentence of 3 and half years and was due to be released in November 2020, reported Reuters. However, weeks before his release, the Petrozavodsk city court in Russia’s northwestern Karelia region abruptly extended the jail term by a decade.

In a statement on its website on Monday, the court said it was increasing the sentence by another two years and that the historian would be held in a high-security penal colony.

The Human Rights Centre Memorial recognised Dmitriyev as a political prisoner, while his attorneys told the Associated Press, that they intend to move court against the ruling.

The United States Embassy in Moscow had last year condemned the 13-year sentence awarded to him. “The Karelian supreme court’s decision to prolong historian Yury Dmitriev’s already unjust sentence by an outrageous 10 additional years is another step backwards for human rights and historical truths in Russia,” spokeswoman Rebecca Ross said on Twitter.

His supporters claim that the charges against Dmitriev are fabricated and he is being punished for uncovering mass graves from the Stalin-era containing the bodies of people held in Soviet prison camps known as Gulags. During the period 1937-1938, described as the “Great Terror,” the officials estimate the execution of around 700,000 people, who were deemed disloyal to him.

Since the early 1990s, Dmitriev worked to locate the execution sites of Stalin in Karelia and through work in the archives, found around 9,000 hidden graves of Stalin’s victims, reported the New York Times.

Additional reporting from the wires

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in