The historian Yuri Dmitriev, known for his research on the disappeared of the Stalinist regime, arrives at the court where he was acquitted of an accusation of child pornography, in Petrozavodsk, Russia, on April 5, 2018
The historian Yuri Dmitriev, known for his research on the disappeared of the Stalinist regime, was acquitted on Thursday in a trial for child pornography, which his followers denounced as a montage to damage his reputation.
„I’m free!“ She said after leaving the courthouse, an AFP journalist said at the scene.
However, Dmitriev, 62, was sentenced to two years and six months of judicial control for illegally carrying arms, his lawyer Viktor Anufriev said.
Dmitriev heads the Memorial section, the main Russian human rights organization, in Karelia, a Russian region bordering Finland.
The prosecution had requested nine years in prison for Dmitriev, accused of having filmed „pornographic“ images of his adopted daughter.
The historian rejected the accusation and explained that he had taken those photos with „medical purposes“ to follow the evolution of the girl, very thin and sick from birth.
The lawyer Viktor Anufriev confirmed that the historian was acquitted of these charges, but was found guilty of illegal possession of weapons. He has already served two years and three months before his trial, so he has three months left pending.
The Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev, who runs the Memorial Center in Karelia, arrives for the reading of the verdict in his trial for child pornography, in Petrozavodsk on April 5, 2018
„They found it impossible to free me completely, so they took as a pretext that I had a piece of metal that I found 20 years ago,“ Yuri Dmitriev said in his first reaction. „The ruling is correct,“ he estimated.
– Discredit –
The supporters of Dmitriev claim that the matter is an attempt by the authorities to intimidate and silence the historian, whose work has shed light on dark pages of the history of the USSR.
In January, after more than a year in pre-trial detention, Dmitriev was released pending the verdict, which his lawyer considered „a step towards victory.“
His followers then saw a consequence of the weakness of the accusations against him.
The Oenegé Memorial, which has been under constant pressure from the authorities for several years, denounced a montage to undermine the work of memory of the organization and the historian.
Russian human rights defenders, including the writer and founder of the Helsinki Group, Liudmila Alexeiéva, asked the court for a „legitimate and fair“ ruling and accused him of several violations of due process.
The Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev was acquitted of the allegations of child pornography, in Petrozavodsk on April 5, 2018
During almost 30 years of work, Dmitriev drew up the list of some 40,000 people executed and deported in Karelia during the Stalinist period. He was also one of those who discovered one of the largest mass graves in the Sandarmoj region, where some 9,000 people were shot.
In 2003, he located the place where thousands of detainees who participated in the construction of the White Sea Canal between 1931 and 1933 were buried. In 2006 he discovered the mass graves of the detainees of the Solovki (North) Islands labor camp.
Work to investigate memory remains difficult in Russia more than 80 years after the apogee of the Stalinist regime, which caused millions of victims.
The Russian authorities, with President Vladimir Putin as leader, have been accused of minimizing the darker aspects of the Soviet past in the name of national unity.