A Russian court sentenced historian and human rights activist Yuri Dmitriev to three and a half years in a controversial trial. According to the lawyer Viktor Anufrijew Russian media. The judge in Petrozavodsk in northern Russia therefore saw it as proven that the 64-year-old sexually abused his adopted daughter. Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Memorial believe the allegations are fabricated. They criticize the process as politically motivated.
The historian had publicized crimes under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, making himself enemies in the Russian power apparatus. Because Dmitriev has already spent most of his time in pre-trial detention, the time spent in custody is expected to be taken into account and his release is expected in mid-November, as his lawyer said. He had hoped for an acquittal, said Anufriev. Fortunately, the judge fell well short of the 15 years imprisonment required by the public prosecutor.
Dmitryev, a distinguished scientist, sees the charges as an excuse to prevent his efforts to commemorate the Stalinist crimes. The authorities in the region had described Dmitryev's work as "harmful to Russia's international reputation".
The Nobel Laureate in Literature Herta Müller from Germany and Svetlana Alexievich from Belarus also supported the scientist. In an earlier trial, Dmitriev was acquitted of the charges. However, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Karelia received the acquittal in 2018 and ordered a new procedure.
Russia's security agencies have been cracking down on dissidents for years. Critics accuse the Kremlin of increasing repression.