Moscow (AP) - The allegations against the Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev are "particularly brutal" from the perspective of human rights defenders: the prosecutor accuses him of sexually abusing his adopted daughter.
After more than three years in the mills of the criminal justice system, the 64-year-old is visibly worn down. He faces 15 years in prison. His trial in Petrozavodsk in northern Russia ends this Wednesday. But nobody believes the allegations are true, the human rights organization Memorial notes. Rather, Dmitriev is regarded as a politically persecuted person who is supposed to be silenced with fabricated allegations. Russia knows many such cases - and the number is increasing.
"The victim is not only Dmitryev, but also his daughter, who was killed for her life in her family," Memorial said. The girl is 15 years old today. Evidence of Dmitryev's guilt is also missing, according to the report. However, the authorities in the Republic of Karelia did not like the fact that the historian at Memorial investigated the crimes under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. The Ministry of Culture in Karelia saw the danger that Dmitryev's work could damage Russia's “international reputation”.
In 1997, after researching executions under Stalin, Dmitriev found a mass grave with 7,000 corpses from the Great Terror period of 1937 and 1938 in Sandarmoch. He organized the commemoration - but got in the way of those who worship Stalin. "We have to remind those who died by the will of our state leaders," said Dmitryev in court. He considered that his patriotic duty, he said to those who accused him of trampling on Russia's history.
"Dmitryev's indictment must be seen in the context of the efforts of the Russian authorities to downplay Stalin's crimes," said the human rights organization Human Rights Watch. Media traced how investigators entered Dmitriev's presence in 2016 and backed up files from his computer. There were also pictures of the naked adoptive daughter, the experts expressly did not classify as child pornography.
Dmitriev is a multiple father and grandfather - no one testified to pedophile tendencies, not even psychiatrists. He had made the nude photos according to his own account to document the development of the malnourished child.
There was an acquittal in an earlier trial. The Supreme Court of Karelia got the money in 2018, which led to the new arrest and trial. Russia's judiciary almost never releases anyone she once has from her clutches. And the opposition is now complaining of ever worse repression against dissidents across the country. Protesters and activists are often found in custody as enemies of the state - partly because of extremism.
And almost always there is dubious evidence in the proceedings - as in the Dmitryev case. Former journalist Ivan Safronov, who made scandals public in the defense industry, sees himself accused by the FSB as a spy for NATO. The FSB is sometimes criticized - like its predecessor KGB - with falsified evidence and bought witnesses against system critics. President Vladimir Putin also served in both organizations - ultimately as the head of the FSB. The gentleman in the Kremlin is now accepting every price to stay in power, writes political scientist Lilja Schewzowa on Facebook.
Just as sensational as Safronov's arrest was that of Governor Sergei Furgal, who is in custody in Moscow for multiple murders. Commenting on the Furgal case, commentators said that the Kremlin had come up with a lot - especially trials related to corruption and fraud - to get rid of unwanted governors. But murder - that surpasses all previous ones.
The politically staged or ordered processes showed all the excesses of an "advanced authoritarianism", says the expert Andrej Kolesnikow at the Moscow think tank Carnegie Center. He sees mechanisms that existed even in KGB times: the search for external and internal enemies and an intensification of repression. This would cover economic problems, for example.
Kremlin critics see it primarily as the goal to frighten society with harsh judgments. But more and more people in Russia are taking to the streets to protest injustice. Last year, the journalist Ivan Golunov was released. The police in Moscow had drugged him to get him out of the way. Golunov had exposed a mafia system in the police force and the involvement of officials in the funeral business, making enemies.
The street protests do not stop even in the case of the politician Furgal, who was jailed for murder. The demonstrations in the far east of Russia are considered to be the largest ever in the Russian province under Kremlin chief Putin. Almost every day, people there cry out for “freedom”.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200722-99-880047 / 2