Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev, known for his research on Stalinist repressions, was found guilty on Wednesday July 22 of “Sexual violence” on his adopted daughter and sentenced to three and a half years in prison after a controversial trial aimed, according to his supporters, his memorial work.

→ ANALYSIS. Repression intensifies in Russia

The prosecution of the court in Petrozavodsk, capital of Karelia in northern Russia, had requested fifteen years of detention against the 64-year-old historian. Colleagues and human rights defenders denounce trumped-up accusations to frighten those who, exhuming Stalin’s crimes, do not align with the official reading of the history of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

“Yuri Dmitriev is a political prisoner”

Natalia Soljenitsina, veuve d’Alexandre Soljenitsine, “This trial is a shame”. “We cannot hide Stalin’s crimes. We are the heirs of this period ”, said Natalia Soljenitsina during a meeting organized by Memorial, the Russian NGO which fights against the forgetting of the victims of the Soviet repression, before the outcome of the trial.

→ EXPLANATION. The disturbing trial of Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev

“We ask you to do everything in your power to end the historian’s persecution”, similarly wrote, in a joint letter to Vladimir Poutine, more than a hundred academics and personalities of Europe.

“Yuri Dmitriev is a political prisoner. The only thing he gave to the community was his scientific and historical work. These attacks aim to discredit his research, assures Sergueï Davidis of Memorial. He is being prosecuted for child pornography, but his innocence has been proven in a first trial. “

“Completely unfounded” accusations

Arrested on December 13, 2016 on the basis of an anonymous letter of denunciation while he was finishing a book on Stalinist executions, Yuri Dmitriev was indeed released on April 5, 2018.

Accused of having made “pornographic” images of his adopted daughter, 12, he explained that the photos were intended for the child protection organization in order to follow the development of the girl, who is physically disabled. The Petrozavodsk court had acquitted Yuri Dmitriev, assuring that the charges “Were completely unfounded”, and recognizing that they were medical follow-up pictures.

An exceptional fact in Russian justice, where less than 1% of trials end in acquittals. He then gave Yuri Dmitriev three months of respite before investigators called for his imprisonment again.

The Supreme Court of Karelia quashed the judgment and, on June 27, 2018, the historian was placed back in pre-trial detention, with new, more infamous charges against him: “Sexual violence committed by an adult on a minor”.

“An attempt to destroy him morally”

The investigators would be based on an “interrogation” of the adopted daughter, now isolated and under the tutelage of her grandmother in a remote village of Karelia. “It is an attempt to destroy him morally, him and his work as a historian”, deplores Irina Flige who, within Memorial, had carried out research with him to draw up the list of 40,000 names of people executed during the Stalinist terror in Karelia. The historian also discovered the Sandarmokh mass grave, where he identified 6,214 murdered victims.

→ MAINTENANCE. “The USSR has not yet fallen into Russia”

Coincidence or not, the prosecutions targeting him were revived as official historians sought to demonstrate that the dead of Sandarmokh were not the victims of Stalinist repression, but Red Army soldiers shot dead by the Finns during the occupation. of Karelia.

“This case was created to discredit my reputation, to cast a shadow over the graves and cemeteries of the victims of Stalinist repression that I unearthed”, defended Yuri Dmitriev on the last day of the trial. « NWe must remember those who died of the cruelty of our state. This is what I consider patriotism. “