France, Western Countries, Protest Dmitriev Sentence

  • Yuri Dimitriev has been sentenced pertaining to his case involving his adoptive daughter.
  • France and Amnesty International asked for leniency and his release.
  • Russian courts did not budge under pressure.

France is concerned about the verdict of the historian and head of the Karelian Memorial, Yuri Dmitriev. They are especially concerned since his health has deteriorated sharply since the beginning of his detention, the French Embassy in Moscow reported. Furthermore, last Sunday, an open letter was penned in support of Dmitriev.

Yury Alexeyevich Dmitriev is a civil rights activist and local historian in Karelia. On 22 July 2020, Dmitriev was convicted of sexual assault against his adopted daughter on evidence the nature of which was finally revealed after the trial ended.

“Along with its partners in the European Union, France calls for the immediate release of Yuri Dmitriev,” the diplomatic mission said. Dmitriev is the head of the Karelian branch of Memorial, an organization that allegedly specializes in memorializing victims of political repression.

Novaya Gazeta and the signatories of the appeal demand to stop the criminal prosecution of Dmitriev. It should be noted that the accusation against Dmitriev was that over the years, he took hundreds of pictures of his adopted daughter. This also included pedophilic activities with his adoptive daughter since the age of four.

There was an unprecedented pressure on the court, the decision was made not according to someone’s wishes, but in accordance with the laws of the Russian Federation. The Embassy noted that the convict is a historian and human rights activist known for studying mass graves of the Stalinist period.

“As the Minister of Europe and foreign Affairs emphasized in his speech at Charles University in Prague on December 6, 2019, where academic freedom is under threat, democracy and peace are at risk. This is why researchers should be able to work freely,” the diplomats said in a statement. They promised that in Paris they will continue to closely monitor the situation of Dmitriev.

The European Foreign Service has previously stated that it considers the review of the court sentence of Dmitriev as politically motivated. The EU and the US Embassy in Moscow demanded the release of the historian.

France–Russia relations date back to the early modern period. According to a 2017 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, 36% of French people have a favorable view of Russia, with 62% expressing an unfavorable view.

Dmitriev was first arrested in December 2016 on charges of making child pornography images of his adopted daughter. In April 2018, the Petrozavodsk city court acquitted him of this charge and released him. In late June 2018, he was arrested again after his case was re-opened and a charge of sexual assault against a girl was added.

It was reported that his health had deteriorated by the spring of 2020, and the defense asked to be released from jail in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic.

On July 22, the Petrozavodsk court sentenced Dmitriev to 3.5 years in a penal colony for sexual violence, setting the term based on mitigating circumstances, and acquitted him of other charges.

On September 29, the Supreme court of Karelia sentenced the historian to 13 years in a high-security penal colony under the article on violence and returned the charge under two other articles for review.

Additionally, the international Association of Writers (PEN club-PEN International) and Amnesty International also stood up for Karelin. Earlier, the Foundation from Sweden gave an award to Dmitriev for his political suffering. Hence, there was tremendous pressure put on the Russian courts.

France and the West believes the cases and sentences against Dmitriev to be politically motivated.  Moscow disagrees, and this is not the Kremlin’s style of dealings.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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